21/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 14:52

Metropolitan Police criticised after racism inquiry

Category: England

Published: 6th Apr 2012 12:00:42

A former Scotland Yard commander has criticised Metropolitan Police bosses after eight police officers were suspended over allegations of racism.

Retired Flying Squad commander John O'Connor said managers should have been pro-active after the force was accused in 1999 of "institutional racism".

In total, 20 officers are being investigated in relation to 10 claims of racism.

Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said the Met "does not tolerate racism".

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the claims which include bullying, abuse and physical assault.

Three officers from Newham were suspended on Thursday while five other officers and one civilian member of staff had previously been suspended at various stages over the past year.

In March an acting sergeant and two PCs based in Newham were suspended over a claim of racist abuse after last year's London riots.

The force has now said a further seven complaints are being investigated and five more officers have been suspended.

Mr O'Connor said after the force was "vilified" as being institutionally racist by the 1999 Macpherson Inquiry, which looked into the force's handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation, checks and balances "should have been put in place".

He said: "It's a matter for the police to train and educate and select the right people so that these incidents don't occur."

He added that not everyone in the force was racist and that if there was any criticism, "a lot of it can be made at the leadership and management".

"We need to find out why this is happening. It's no good having the deputy commissioner almost washing his hands and saying 'we won't put up with racism'.

"Well what are you doing about it? You need to do something."

He added: "Why do you get officers who previously have had untarnished careers getting involved in these kinds of incidents?

"There are too many of these incidents for it to be brushed under the carpet and I think there needs to be more research."

He added: "We don't know, for example, what the conditions some of these officers work under where they constantly face a tirade of abuse when they deal with certain sectors of society."

On Thursday, Mr Mackey said he was reassured that of the 10 cases which have been referred to the IPCC, six came to light after other officers raised concerns.

You need to be very careful about how you handle these kinds of witch-hunts”

"I will always want to work in an organisation where someone who believes they've seen unacceptable behaviour feels they can challenge it and report it - knowing action will be taken, as it has been in these cases and as it will be whenever it occurs.

"The Met does not tolerate racism."

He said he had commissioned a review of racism complaints and added: "The Met has around 50,000 staff, including 32,000 officers, who were deployed to over 1.3 million incidents last year on behalf of Londoners.

"The vast majority act with the professionalism and high standards we expect."

But Mr O'Connor said the notion of officers "telling tales on each other was not good for morale".

"You don't want a situation where a police officer says, 'I don't want to work with him because he grassed up a couple of other guys' and you don't want a situation where officers turn their backs on incidents which they think are suspicious and they're frightened to act because they feel there may be allegations made against them.

"You need to be very careful about how you handle these kinds of witch-hunts."

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BBC News, 2012. Metropolitan Police criticised after racism inquiry [Online] (Updated 6th Apr 2012)
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