Friday, 6 April 2012

Racism in Police Force spirals dangerously out of control

Image Detail
Police 'apprehend' a man in London. (photo by workerspower uk)

I have written many articles on the increasing nature of Metropolitan Police Service racism in recent times. Today devastating news: another three police officers have been referred to the IPCC for allegedly racially abusing George Asare, a young Ghanaian, first tasered and then, apparently inexplicably shot, in Lewisham South London recently.

This makes a total of 10 cases of racism referred to the IPCC and 5 police officers who are suspended and are currently being investigated for racism. The official and anecdotal evidence is that racism is spiralling dangerously out of control as resurgent and unrestrained institutional racism returns with a vengeance.

Charles Crichlow
The National Black Police Association's Charles Crichlow is so concerned that he has called for a public scrutiny by the Home affairs Select Committee. In a letter to the chair he expresses “serious concern that Racism in the Police has gone unchecked as part of failure of Government and Police Leadership...”

I think this is right if we are to avoid further disturbances in the future the Commissioner and the former Mayor need to stop denying the reality of institutional racism.

The Commissioner has publically restated his commitment to tackling racism within the MPS, pointing out that isolated incidents of racism do not make an institutionally racist organisation.

The problem with this analysis is that it is only in the minds of the senior management board at Scotland Yard, that these latest incidents are seen in stupefying isolation.

The reality is that over the last four years London’s black communities have lost all confidence in the MPS.

A 300% increase in the use of the abusive power of poor quality stop and search has alienated huge sections of our community.

Suspicious deaths in custody have increased in the same period by 100%.

The cases of Sean Rigg, Babar Ahmed, Commander Ali Dizaei, Smiley Culture, Mark Duggan, George Asare, phone hacking, the allegations that the police investigation into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence was derailed by police corruption, the brutal treatment of the United Friends and Family demonstration in October, the policing of the riots and subsequent mass arrest and criminalisation of London black youth:  all these issues have contributed to a real haemorrhaging of trust and confidence in the police service.

This brutal and awful reality of this terrible state of affairs for a multicultural city like London is the simple truth that the MPS no longer enjoys the trust of many Black Londoners.

Add to this the most recent cases of a 21 year old black man Mauro Demetrio who recorded a police officer calling him a “nigger”, coming on top of all the other issues raised here, it becomes abundantly clear that we are at a crisis point.

None of these issues can be seen in isolation. A criticism of the MPS, made initially by the McPherson report, criticised the MPS for refusing to see the bigger picture in seeking to tackle racism.

The Mayor of London, who is responsible for the MPS after the abolition of the Metropolitan Police Authority, chose not to maintain the whole race equality policy monitoring infrastructure that the MPA had established as a priority.

The announcement of the abolishment of the MPA in the summer of 2010 meant that its’ power and influence on these matters disappeared as the Mayor took increasing control leading up to its official recent abolition.

The signs were always there.  In the foreword of the now largely forgotten and discredited Race and Faith report, after looking at the lack of promotion of black officers, Boris Johnson wrote, “I welcome Cindy Butts’ finding that the Met is not institutionally racist…” The fact was that the Cindy Butts report had concluded no such thing. 

The Mayor in his eagerness to dismiss race simply added that sentence to the report without the agreement or consent of the inquiry panel.

Let’s not forget that Bob Purkiss a member of the initial inquiry team resigned, citing political interference from the Mayor’s Office, who had insisted that the report came to this conclusion despite those responsible refusing to do so. 

As a result the MPS and the Mayor determined that this issue was no longer a priority.

Over the last few years the MPS has surrounded itself with black community advisers that are frightened of their own shadow, leaving them surrounded by people who are the virtual equivalent of nodding dogs.

Where are the public statements of concern or condemnation for the Scotland Yard Independent Advisory Group and Trident IAG? In my view both groups are now being used to legitimise police racism. They need to find the political courage to do the right thing and resign.

Boris’s ideological opposition to race equality led him to prematurely dismiss the reality of institutional racism in the MPS, it blinded him to a growing crisis of confidence and when the crunch came and riots exploded in the streets of the capital he was chasing Bullwinkle in the Rocky Mountains.

Whilst London burned, Boris was asked by a journalist if he intends to return to London. His response and I quote: "I am not going to come back at the moment because I have complete confidence in the police…"
The Commissioner and the new Mayor need to understand the depth and seriousness of this crisis. At the moment they are seeking to downplay and dismiss these concerns.  That is a catastrophic error and they need to wake up to that fact and seek to restructure that relationship by using credible and experienced leadership.

This is urgent because, as he knows, he has a whole slew of similarly appalling cases of police racism and brutality currently in court or under investigation.  

When they appear in the public domain he and the new Mayor better have a clear and credible response.

Lee Jasper