Blame for routine racism within the police rests with senior officers and is far more endemic than Scotland Yard is willing to admit, a former member of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry panel said yesterday.
Dr Richard Stone’s condemnation, in an open letter to Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, was echoed by senior figures yesterday as the Metropolitan Police found itself in an embarrassing row over racism more than a decade after it promised to clean up its act.
“Here we are 14 years later with the worst kind of blatant and violent racism by police. Even worse is that the officers appear to be doing it openly in front of colleagues from whom they have no fear of being reported,” said Dr Stone.
“Such a group of constables could not be routinely racist like this without their seniors being aware, and telling them to stop. I fear this may alas be more than ‘just a few bad apples’.”
Dr Stone was among a number of high-profile critics to come forward yesterday after it emerged that 10 cases of racism, involving 18 police officers and one member of staff, had been passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. To date, eight police officers and one civilian worker have been suspended.
It emerged last night that Brian Paddick, the London Mayoral candidate, wrote a secret report in 2004 while a serving senior Met officer warning the force that it needed to take tougher action against racism or risk a breakdown in relations with ethnic minorities.
Superintendent Leroy Logan, of the Black Police Association, said repeated warnings of racism in the force over 10 years had been ignored. “Every year since 2001, the young people have been saying how they believe they are being dealt with disrespectfully, and casual racist comments were being used,” he said. “We were telling the Met Police, some two or three commissioners back, this is what is coming up. But like so many things, it lands on deaf ears.”
Lee Jasper, chair of London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium, warned that the relationship between the black community and the police was at “crisis point”. He said: “Such an acute failure to both appreciate and understand the fraught history of relations of black communities and accept the reality of institutional racism within the service is an error of catastrophic proportions.”
In his letter to the commissioner, Dr Stone welcomed Mr Hogan-Howe’s “condemnation of blatant racism”, adding: “You have made a good start by telling everyone under you just to stop it. It is only sustained leadership that can effect real change.”
Since 2005, there have been 2,584 complaints of racism against Met officers as well as 136 reported by their own colleagues. Of those, 42 were substantiated and two officers were sacked.
More here: Racism endemic in Met, says Lawrence inquiry adviser