Met racism allegations: OntheBeat’s round-up
Onthebeat101 takes a look at the allegations of racism that have engulfed the Metropolitan Police in recent weeks…
It’s been almost a fortnight of allegations and responses. This comes as a shock to those that thought the Scarman and McPherson Reports had solved the problem of racism. To others, it’s only a wonder why it took so long to come out again. OntheBeat1o1 rounds up the most important developments here:
An audio recording made on a mobile phone is made public by the Guardian newspaper website. It dates back to last August at the tail-end of the riots. Mauro Demetrio, a 21 year old black man from Beckton is racially abused by local police.
MPS confirms it received a complaint on 11 August. The IPCC gave the case to the Crown Prosecution Service in January after concluding that 3 officers had committed criminal offences.
MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee says he’s “deeply concerned” and calls for “zero tolerence”. The next day he backs the reopening of investigation into Met racism
Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe urges his staff to report any racist incidents, saying he was “shocked” by the audio recording.
Scotland Yard release details of a further 7 complaints of racism, bringing the total to 10.
- 20 officers and one civilian staff member are now under investigation. 8 of those have been suspended. All complaints have been referred to the IPCC.
- Six out of the 10 complaints were brought by police officers against colleagues.
- Of the 10, one complaint is of bullying of PCSOs by officers in Wandsworth.
- The IPCC inquiry into the two events was handed to MPS on Tuesday. The CPS says it is reviewing its advice that the prospect of conviction was minimal.
The same officers involved in the Demetrio incident are named by Terelle Ferguson interview with the Guardian. Ferguson, 15 at the time, handed himself in when he became aware police were looking him. He also alleges assult by the same officers during a stop and search on him two days earlier.
Met racism leads the headlines all day.
Stats released show that just two of 2,270 officers accused of racism in the last 5 years have been dismissed.
It is revelaed that of 120 officers found guilty of racism since McPherson:
- 21 sanctioned, usually a fine
- six forced to resign
- One sacked
Dr. Richard Stone, former member of the Lawrence Inquiry, pens an open letter to Hogan-Howe calling for leadership. Leadership is what has been missing all along, he says, and it’s not just a few bad apples.
On the Today programme, Leroy Logan Met Black Police Association suggests bringing back the Stephen Lawrence Steering group to be chaired by the Home Secretary, to be used as a “performance indicator”.
Outside the Met, following an internal inquiry, PSNI reports it has suspended 4 officers for racist and sectarian text messages.
Keith Vaz tells The World at One greater diversity is needed in the police force and cals for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to produce new guidelines for all police forces.
Lib Dem Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick wades in to the debate by claiming his bosses ignored him when he produced a report in 2004 warning of “racial stereotyping”.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Superintendent Leroy Logan says he’s not suprised by developments, that young people have been complaining of racial prejudice for a long time but they’ve been “landing of deaf ears”. But he’s encouraged by Hogan-Howe’s leadership.
Bevan Powell, chair of the Met’s Black Police Officers’ Association, calls for reintroduction of a government organisation to restore trust between the police and community. The last such organisation, which followed the MacPherson Inquiry, was disbanded in 2005. He also questions the suitability of elected Police Commissioners for the task of community engagement.
President of the National Black Police Association Charles Crichlow writes to Home Secretary Theresa May, calling for the involvement of high profile government ministers, similar to Cameron’s conference on racism in football.
Pretty depressing reading, then. But this dark cloud has the slightest silverlining. A couple things have improved:
- Instead of handling the matter internally, the MPS has referred the complaints to the IPCC.
- Six out of ten of the complaints about racism were reported by MPS employees themselves. This would have been inconceivable at the time of Scarman and maybe even Macpherson.
- Bernard Hogan-Howe’s leadership is crucial here. He’s been very strong in condemning the actions of the officers.
It’s important not to overplay this though. The IPCC is imperfect. It’s dillydallying over the shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham is seen by many as a major contributing factor to the eruption of riots in London last year. Lack of communication this time would only exacerbate the tensions.
It’s only 13 years since the met was labelling institutionaly racist by the MacPherson Inquiry. That’s not that long. The Met needs to make sure complacency about the issue is rooted out and it’s back as a priority.
We knew the culture has changed. Now we know for sure that there’s more work to do.
Of most relevance to our PCSO readers, OnTheBeat101 has put an FOI request in to ask how many complaints of bullying of PCSOs by officers the Met has received, and will update you all once we have the info.
Is the Met racist? What could be done to make things better? Is this being blown out of proportion? What role should PCSOs play in this? Let us know what you think and comment below!