Britain’s police is a sham when it comes to race: When will we admit this?

Following media reports that the Met has suspended eight police officers from the force after damning racism allegations it would appear that Britain’s police force is once again is being accused of institutional racism, but ever since the Macpherson Report over a decade ago nothing of substance has been achieved in terms of racial understanding or community relations between black and minority ethnic (BME) communities and the police, this is what the BME communities and Black and Asian police officers have been saying for years. Britain’s police force is a sham when it comes to race, and it is time that we admit this openly.

Twenty-one year old Mauro Demetrio, from Beckton, east London, was arrested on Drug Driving during the London riots, charges which were later dropped, but it was his quick thinking to record PC Alex MacFarlane calling him a nigger on his mobile phone which arguably forced the police force into damage control. Police face racism scandal after black man records abuse (Guardian: Paul Lewis: 30 March, 2012)

Only a few hours later PC McFarlane’s colleague, PC Joe Harrington was placed on restrictive duties after he was allegedly recorded assaulting a 15 year old black boy. Metropolitan police race row deepens after assault claim (Guardian: Paul Lewis: 2 April, 2012)

BME communities should not be surprised

BME communities should not feel surprised about these revelations because Black and Asian police officers as well as members of the BME communities have consistently spoken about the daily racist incidents they have had to endure from members of the police force.

On May 7, I covered the story of Superintendent Paul Wilson, a 51 year old black police officer who had worked in the force for years, who said he was sidelined for promotion because he wrote a critical report on how Black police officers were treated. Police force rocked again after senior black officer claims racism. He took the Met to a tribunal for racism.

In the same story I reflected on the consistent pattern of pervasive racism in the police force. One example, is when the Metropolitan Black Police Officers Association (BPA) boycotted all recruitment drives by the police force to recruit new officers from black and minority ethnic communities in protest of what they described as “a hostile atmosphere where racism is allowed to spread.” (ITN: Monday, 6 October 2008)

In an address delivered by Ratna Lachman, Director – JUST West Yorkshire, at the National Black Police Association Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, on 5 October 2011, it was revealed in a recent survey carried out by the West Yorkshire Black Police Association, that, “71% of BME officers said they’d experienced discrimination, bullying, harassment and unfair treatment at work and 80% felt that disciplinary investigations and work-performance related issues were not fair, transparent or proportionate. 4% of Asian officers were suspended compared to 0.09% of white officers despite the under-representation of BME officers.” (Speech to the National Black Police Association Conference p.1)

PC Kashif Ahmed faced ten charges on deception and fraud. He spent nearly 50 hours in police custody and interviews in an investigation which lasted 24 months, where according to the report he was falsely arrested 16 times. Friends of PC Ahmed was targeted by the invesitgative police team in what can only be described as a campaign of coercion, harassment and deliberate dirty underhanded tricks.

The cost of this investigation for the taxpayers exceeded a million pounds and at the end of it the judge called for “the entirety of this indictment to be stayed because of the untruthfulness of a number of the investigative team. (p.3)

The judge added that the investigation was “an affront to justice”, and referred to the police officers who conducted the investigation as “untruthful”. (p.3)

Ratna Lachman said:

I am presenting this case – because as the coordinator for the Justice for Kashif Campaign, I couldn’t believe the impunity with which the Professional Standards Department was conducting the investigation. I wrote to the Independent Police Complaint’s Commission calling for an investigation into their conduct and instead of taking my concerns seriously, the matter was referred back to the very department I was lodging a complaint against. This is akin to my Board asking me to investigate a complaint against me by a member of my staff – it would not stand up in front of a Tribunal. The persistence of such practices are in my view tantamount to sticking up the proverbial two fingers to the Macpherson Report and promoting a perpetrator’s charter in which there’s no scrutiny nor accountability in the way in which some senior police officers conduct themselves.

Unfortunately, the police force has been ‘sticking up their proverbial two fingers to the Macpherson Report’ and members of the BME communities for years now, simply because the gravity and seriousness of the racist practices and behaviour present within the force has not been dealt with properly and arguably will not be dealt with properly because they are not held accountable for their actions by the government, their own so called independent complaints bodies, and more importantly, BME communities.

Whilst rioters across the UK were robbing shops for luxury items, I spoke about the seriousness of addressing black deaths in police custody. (Read Black deaths in police custody: We should never forget & London riots: Will it address black deaths in police custody?) I argued that looting and irrational violence would not address these issues. The police can arguably stick their two fingers up to BME communities because of irresponsible acts such as this.

Ratna Lachman spoke about how he knew police officers who had nearly lost their minds because of campaigns of harassment by corrupt, white racist colleagues.

Police officers like David Blair, an award winning black ex-West Yorkshire Police Officer who served in the British Army from the age of 16, and following that joined West Yorkshire Police, where he served his community for 17 years during which he was awarded with Commendations for saving a drowning man and for an investigation which led to the confiscation of an arsenal of guns and ammunition. Apparently, fighting for Britain was not enough for some white officers who conspired to set him up and arrested him on false charges. (Read New website exposes police corruption and racism)

David was suicidal and attempted to throw himself off a bridge, however the case against him collapsed as the judge dismissed it.

PC Simon Jenkins subjected to a similar racist ordeal sadly took his life.

Ratna Lachma cites case after case of false charges brought against BME officers which are later thrown out of court.

He also detailed how Muslim police officers were being treated as terrorist suspects and investigated covertly.

He said, “I believe that the reason why police officers feel they can behave with such impunity is because the institutionally racist culture within the police force merely mirrors the racism within our political culture.” (p.6)

I believe his last point hits the nail on the head, and finally someone has the guts to say it as it is. Finally someone has admitted that all is not cosy with multiculturalism in Britain.

The questions which we all must ask now is how do we deal with a pervasively racist police force, a pervasively racist political system and a pervasively racist mainstream media that deliberately misleads white Britons? It is an uphill struggle, and looting from shops is not going to address these issues.

As long as BME communities continue to stand by and allow these injustices to continue unabated then in the words of Lachman, the police, and not just them, but also politicians, employers, the criminal justice system etc., will forever be sticking up their two proverbial fingers in our faces.

For further research:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/30/police-racism-black-man-abuse?intcmp=239

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/apr/02/police-race-row-assault-claim?INTCMP=SRCH

http://www.minorityperspective.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Speech-to-the-National-Black-Police-Association-Conference-.pdf


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2 Responses to Britain’s police is a sham when it comes to race: When will we admit this?

  1. mym says:

    Good article. The British police are not heroes like many ‘white’ Britons claim. If British police are so wonderful against crime, how come they never went looking for the killer of a whistle-blower in the Murdoch scandal?

  2. mym says:

    On 24 August The Guardian reported that a non-white youth has been arrested 50 times.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/24/black-teenager-met-police

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