It would take 100 years for black & minority ethnic police officers to be representative of London population

It would take 100 years for black and minority ethnic police officers to be representative of the London population, it was revealed today.

Twenty years on from the inquiry into the investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, black and minority ethnic people are still less likely to be successful applicants to the Met Police.

And when they are recruited they have significantly higher grievances at their treatment in the force.

Only 14 per cent of police officers are black or from ethnic minorities compared to 43 per cent of population.

Despite this, Commissioner Cressida Dick claimed today (Tues) that the Met Police was not “institutionally racist” and that it was “not useful” to say this.

Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager, was stabbed to death in a racist attack in south east London in 1993.

Four years later a shocking report, launched by High Court Judge Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, found “institutional racism” had marred the investigation into his killing along with “professional incompetence” and a “failure of leadership”.

The report, published in February 1999, led to widespread changes of police procedures after Sir William made 70 recommendations.

On the 10th anniversary of the inquiry, the Home Office said 67 of them had been partly or fully implemented.

They included proposals to improve murder investigations and the treatment of victims of crime, such as first-aid training and dedicated family liaison officers.

The inquiry also paved the way for a change in the law of double jeopardy, meaning suspects acquitted of serious crimes could be prosecuted again when new evidence emerged.

The change led to one of the men suspected of Stephen’s murder, Gary Dobson, going to trial for a second time.

He was convicted in 2012 along with David Norris.

The inquiry resulted in an overhaul of the police disciplinary and complaints system, performance indicators to hold police to account and measures to ensure racist crimes were logged and dealt with properly.

Since 2000 recordings of “racially aggravated offences” in England and Wales rose from 21,750 to 55,557 in 2018.

But today, the Met admitted there was a “long way to go” when it came to addressing issues in recruitment.

It was revealed that there are only four chief superintendents from a black or minority ethnic backgrounds and 13 superintendents in the Met Police.

Speaking at Scotland Yard, Clare Davies, head of recruitment for the Met Police, said: “We ended 2018 with 4,200 black and ethnic minority officers working for the Met Police, that’s just over 14 per cent of officers.

“That’s a significant increase from 1999.

“In the past five years we have increased the number of black and minority ethnic applicants joining the Met from 17 per cent to 28 per cent and we have forensically reviewed our recruitment process.”

But she added: “For many the progress is too slow and some would say we need to do more than we have done with regards to recruitment and representation.

“One of our challenges is that police officers as you know have long careers.

“So that means we need to do more when we are recruiting and we need to work really hard to retain those officers and staff.

“If we continue even with the great progress we’ve made it would take over 100 years to be representative.

“And that means we’re equally ambitious now as we were 20 years ago .

“So what we’ve chosen to do now is to set some new ambitions in the next three, five and ten years.

“We’re putting a lot of investment into achieving those changes.

“Within the next year we want to increase our recruitment of officers from black and minority ethnic by 35 per cent.

“For us that means recruiting another 250 a year from black and minority ethnic backgrounds which would get us to 19 per cent in three years time.

“We also want to do more work on representation and progression, we want officers at every single rank of the Met.

“But you’ll understand most of our people joining at the rank of constable have long careers it does take time to see a difference, particularly at senior levels.

“Over the last five years we have fundamentally redesigned the way we select officers for promotion and development.

“Our challenge remains representation in terms of retaining the officers.

“We know that in the first two years of joining the Met we see slightly more black and minority officers choosing to leave the Met.

“We know in our recruitment processes if you are from a black and ethnic minority you are more likely to be unsuccessful in some stages of our recruitment processes.

“We know that’s due to career development and work life balance.”

She said there are more grievances from black and ethnic minority staff (35 per cent) than the general population (15 per cent).

Asked about whether the Met Police was still institutionally racist Cressida Dick said it was not and “not useful” to say so.

She said: “The Met have done more than any other force across the country.

“I agree with my predecessor.

“That’s a definition which is probably better for other people to look at.

“I don’t find it’s a useful way to describe the service and I don’t believe that we are.”

By Grainne Cuffe

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