- Reporter is
Nature of Incident
LONDON, May 31: Fifty-one complaints related to allegations of racism by London Metropolitan police officers have been made to the police watchdog over the past two months, it has emerged.
The scale of allegations was revealed by the Labour chair of London’s police and crime committee, Joanne McCartney, as she challenged the London mayor, Boris Johnson, in his first appearance in front of the committee since it replaced the Metropolitan Police Authority.
Johnson, a Conservative, who was re-elected as mayor at the start of the month, pre-empted criticism following a catalogue of recent racism allegations by announcing that he is to launch a review of measures introduced to eradicate racism within the Met — as the London Metropolitan police is known — alongside the Met commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe.
Johnson said in a statement issued before the meeting: “The commissioner and I are in absolute agreement that racism within the Met, whose officers and staff are in a special position of trust, will not be tolerated.”
Citing the number complaints lodged to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), McCartney pressed Johnson on the true scale of racism within the Met.
Johnson, sitting next to Hogan-Howe, told the assembly committee: “I think any incident of racism is too much.”
He said “we’ve moved on” from the term “institutional racism” first defined by the Macpherson report into a failed police investigation into a racist murder, adding: “I prefer to say this. I think great progress has been made but there is more to do.”
A spokeswoman for the IPCC confirmed the scale of complaints received.
“The IPCC has received 51 referrals from the MPS [Metropolitan police service] of complaints/conduct matters where an allegation of racism has been made and where the alleged misconduct took place after 1 April 2012. Of these 51 referrals, nine have been sent back to the force for local handling and 42 are being supervised by the IPCC.”
Hogan-Howe told the assembly that the respective authorities had “moved quickly” on the original 11 cases of alleged Met racism under investigation, two of which had resulted in criminal charges following Crown Prosecution Service reviews, another six allegations investigated by the Met were finished, and “where there are charges to make” these would lead to gross misconduct and misconduct charges, and another five cases with the IPCC were awaiting their conclusion.
The Met chief said he had also decided to step up his plans for a cultural change programme, which was originally aimed to be “embedded” for 2013 onwards.
But as a result of the complaints that had come to light, he said he had decided to act “more quickly”.
“I don’t think it necessarily condemns the past to say that you want to improve it in the future,” he said.
Johnson, who since 2010 has delegated policing to a deputy mayor, was facing the cross-party panel of assembly members as he waits for his new deputy mayor for policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, to start his role.
He stressed his intention to conduct a review of progress made following the “race and faith inquiry” that he commissioned in 2008 to look into racism in the force. As a result of the inquiry, the Met said it would open up senior positions to people from
different backgrounds, even if they had not started working as a constable.
The report also said it should be easier for staff to apply for internal promotions and transfers.
Johnson told the committee: “It’s important that we look at where we are now in respect of the recommendations made by the race and faith inquiry; the progress made and how we are getting on now. I do think there has been considerable progress particularly on recruitment and in the composition of the Metropolitan police.”
He added: “What I hope we can do with the review of where we have got to with the race and faith inquiry is help through the MOPC [The mayor's office for policing and crime] to help the commission and help the police to come up with practical concrete steps to accelerate that process.”
By arrangement with the Guardian
- United Kingdom