Friday, 8 January 2010

Scotland Yard admits race discrimination in deal to end boycott


Metropolitan police deputy commissioner Tim Godwin will take personal responsibility for driving out discrimination. Photograph: Anna Gordon

Scotland Yard bosses have admitted discrimination still exists among its officers as part of a deal to end a race row that plagued
Britain's biggest force for 16 months, the Guardian has learned.


A boycott of the force by the Black Police Association, which began in October 2008, will be ended tomorrow.

It follows months of secret talks and as part of the settlement Scotland Yard deputy commissioner Tim Godwin has vowed to "address issues of race and discrimination in the organisation" and in how London is policed, according to a letter seen by the Guardian.
Scotland Yard has also privately accepted that discrimination is part of the reason ethnic minority officers are less likely to get promoted and more likely to be disciplined.


Last February Sir Paul Stephenson, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, publicly declared that the force was no longer "institutionally racist".

The Metropolitan police section of the BPA began its boycott after a vicious race row at the top of Scotland Yard that rocked the force for months.
In September 2008 Tarique Ghaffur, third in charge of the Met and Britain's most senior officer from an ethnic minority, was suspended after calling his boss, Sir Ian Blair, a racist and suing the force for discrimination. He later left the Met.
One of Ghaffur's closest advisers, Commander Ali Dizaei, was suspended after misconduct allegations and was later charged with misconduct in public office and intending to pervert the course of justice. He goes on trial next week.
The BPA responded by urging ethnic minority Britons not to join the force. Community groups said the boycott was effective and had damaged the Met's efforts to recruit ethnic minority officers.
In his letter to the Met BPA, Godwin said: "I am writing to set out how I see the Met BPA working with other … colleagues to address issues of race and discrimination in the organisation and in the delivery of policing services to the people of London.
"In particular I want to ensure that the concerns you have raised about disproportionality in our discipline processes and in the progression of staff through the organisation are effectively addressed."
The deputy commissioner's letter continues: "It is accepted that we have more to do if we are to be confident that these processes give everyone the same opportunities and it is important that the Met BPA is fully involved in that work. We do of course want to see the same outcome – the very best quality of policing for all the communities of London."
As part of the deal the Met has set up reviews headed by senior officers into why ethnic minority officers find it harder than white ones to gain promotion and why they are more likely to face disciplinary action.
The deputy commissioner will take personal charge of driving out discrimination from the ranks, with senior Met bosses placed in charge of overseeing the work.
According to a source with close knowledge of Scotland Yard's thinking: "We wanted to get rid of the sense that we and the BPA were at loggerheads.
"They will keep an eye on us – if nothing comes of this, we will end up in an unproductive relationship."
The senior source added the force would not make any high-profile public apology: "There is no intention to stand in front of the television cameras and say 'Woe is us'."
The deal was only finalised in the week before Christmas after negotiations beginning last summer.


Ever since the 1999 Macpherson inquiry report found the Met institutionally racist after the bungled Stephen Lawrence murder investigation, Scotland Yard has struggled to convince its own ethnic minority officers that it is taking eradicating its own discrimination seriously.

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