Institutional racism term stopping Met reform - report

Police officer
Image caption The Met was accused of being "hostile and racist"

The term "institutional racism" has become a barrier to reform at the Metropolitan Police, a report has said.

The Race and Faith Inquiry report, commissioned by London Mayor Boris Johnson, says the expression is a "millstone around the neck" of the Met.

The term was used by Sir William Macpherson in 1999 in his report into Stephen Lawrence's murder.

The report makes nine recommendations including "multi-point entry", so people can join at different ranks.

The Metropolitan Police Authority report, commissioned in October 2008 and delayed by 10 months, also says managers should not have the right to veto staff applying for promotion or transfers.

The mayor ordered the investigation into alleged racism after the Metropolitan Black Police Association (BPA) said it would discourage black and Asian recruits from applying to the force as it would be "failing in its duty" not to tell people of the "hostile and racist situation there".

Mr Johnson said: "To deliver successful policing in the capital, we have to get equalities and diversity issues right."

The BPA lifted its recruitment boycott in January.

The inquiry report says the phrase institutional racism is used too glibly as a "blanket indictment".

Sir William said in his report the Met saw "the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin... through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping".

At the time, the Met admitted it was institutionally racist and made far-reaching changes to improve recruitment of ethnic minority officers.

The Race and Faith Inquiry report said the term has "obscured" understanding of the nature of any continuing endemic racism in the Met, or any other large organisation, and discussion about the term is a "sterile debate".

'Sad and disturbing'

The report said the Met needs a "fresh and energetic" approach to making the principles of equality, diversity and human rights a practical reality.

It highlighted "sad and disturbing" accounts from black and ethnic minority officers who had been "unfairly treated and marginalised".

The authors also warned that statistics suggested white men were more likely to be promoted and stood less chance of being disciplined then their ethnic minority counterparts.

Cindy Butts, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), who chaired the inquiry panel, said: "The Met has much to be proud of in championing diversity.

"But it would be wrong to relax and we are determined that momentum should be maintained."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Rod Jarman said: "The report acknowledges the significant progress made by the Met in addressing the issues of equality and diversity.

"We recognise there is still more to do and we will continue to work with our staff to develop and support a talented workforce to provide the best possible service to the people of London."

The £100,000 report faced criticism from some quarters.

Dee Doocey, a Liberal Democrat MPA member, said the review should have investigated why 40% of race discrimination cases were settled out of court and criticised delays in publication.

Race campaigner Lee Jasper accused Mr Johnson of attempting to "bury bad news" by releasing it on the anniversary of the 7 July bombings.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites