London mayor backs down on police racism probe

October 7th, 2008 - 1:22 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Oct.7 (ANI): The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has been forced to revise his inquiry into racism in the Metropolitan Police after a frosty reception from the force’’s governing body.
Johnson had proposed the inquiry after a black police officers group criticized the “hostile and racist environment” at Scotland Yard and called on ethnic minority recruits to boycott the Met.
On Monday, however, Johnson was told forcefully at his first meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) since taking office that the investigation that he envisaged was an expensive, unnecessary duplication of earlier inquiries, and would be open to accusations of bias.
According to The Times, Johnson had asked Cindy Butts, a member of the police authority, to head the inquiry, but other authority members said that this would look like an inside job.
Len Duvall, a former MPA chairman, pointed out that the authority itself was “not immune” from accusations of racism.
Lord Toby Harris, a veteran London politician and another former chairman of the MPA, agreed: I am slightly concerned what we are in the process of doing is creating something that could be the worlds biggest long-grass job. Clearly there are issues and concerns [surrounding the treatment of ethnic minority officers], but I have experience of setting up the Morris inquiry [on race and faith issues] which was inspired by the Authority, but entirely independent.
The furor started after the Metropolitan Black Police Association told Times Online yesterday that it was planning a boycott on ethnic minority recruitment.
The boycott threat is the most serious challenge to the Met’’s record on race since the devastating conclusions of Sir William Macpherson’’s report into the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation ten years ago.
Alfred John, the Metropolitan Black Police Associations chairman, claimed that opportunities for promotion at Scotland Yard had declined since the Macpherson report, with fewer black officers in senior roles despite an additional 2,000 black and ethnic minority recruits.
Asked whether it had got worse, John added: It has indeed, the progression of black staff is in fact worse now than it was 10 years ago… If it gets too oppressive within the organization, it is inherently dangerous for us to be encouraging people to join and walking into what we consider to be a hostile environment.
The boycott comes at a time when Scotland Yard is already embroiled in a race row with the countrys most senior Asian police officer, Tarique Ghaffur. The atmosphere of confrontation deepened several weeks ago when the MPA suspended Commander Ali Dizaei, president of the National Black Police Association, over alleged misconduct. (ANI)

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