Met Commissioner admits force ‘not free of discrimination, racism or bias’

Dame Cressida Dick
Dame Cressida Dick (PA Wire)
9:20am, Fri 13 Nov 2020
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The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has said she feels “very sorry” that trust among black communities is so low, as she admitted her force “is not free of discrimination, racism or bias”.

Dame Cressida Dick issued a statement as the force outlined plans for 40% of new recruits to be from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) from 2022.

It comes as London Mayor Sadiq Khan published an action plan to address concerns over the use of police powers affecting black Londoners, including stop and search and the use of Taser.

My top two operational priorities are reducing violence and increasing public confidence in the Met, particularly the confidence of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities

He has called for an immediate review of police road traffic stops in the capital and has asked the Met to launch a year-long pilot scheme looking at samples to identify any disproportionality relating to ethnicity.

Mr Khan’s plan also aims to ensure officers are not relying on the smell of cannabis alone when deciding to stop and search a person, with such incidents subjected to “London-wide scrutiny panels”.

Figures show black people are almost four times more likely to be stopped and searched in the street than white people in London. They are also six times more likely to be stopped in their vehicles, according to City Hall.

The Met said the force is working with Mr Khan on his plan and have immediately re-introduced the London residency requirement for most officers joining the force.

Dame Cressida said: “I recognise trust in the Met is still too low in some black communities, as is their trust in many other institutions.

“I feel very sorry about that. It is something I have worked to change and I commit now to stepping up that work further.

“My top two operational priorities are reducing violence and increasing public confidence in the Met, particularly the confidence of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

“Actions are more important than words and, as I have said before, we can do more and we will.

“The Met is not free of discrimination, racism or bias. I have always acknowledged that and do now again.

“In the Met we have zero tolerance of racism.  My job is to continue to try to eliminate any such racism and discrimination, however it appears.”

Black Lives Matter protests swept the capital following the death of George Floyd in the US on May 25.

The Met faced controversy and accusations of racial profiling following a series of incidents filmed and shared online, including the vehicle stop of Team GB athlete Bianca Williams and her Portuguese sprinter boyfriend Ricardo Dos Santos.

Five officers are being investigated for misconduct after they were pulled over while travelling with their baby in west London in July.

Dame Cressida described 46-year-old Mr Floyd’s death after a policeman kneeled on his neck in Minneapolis, Minnesota as “utterly awful” but said UK policing is “entirely different”.

“I recognise and regret the pain and anguish felt by many in our black communities,” she said.

“Some people have a strong sense of injustice and unfairness – for some that is historic and for some that is today.

“Let me assure you, we in the Met are listening and want to work with our black communities to accelerate change.”

Bianca Williams police stop (PA Wire)

The Met said new recruits will be taught the history of the local area they will police and will learn the importance of “cultural awareness” during stop and search training, including “scenario-based role play”.

Scotland Yard has also reinstated access by community monitoring groups to body-worn video footage.

The mayor said he recognised the progress made by the Met since the force was described as “institutionally racist” in Sir William Macpherson’s 1999 report following an inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

However, Mr Khan added: “More must be done, and will be done through this action plan, properly to recognise and address the impact that some police tactics used disproportionately on black people is having.

“This starts with involving communities and ensuring they have proper oversight and scrutiny of stop and search, the use of Tasers and the use of force, as well as in the training of new police officers so they can better understand the trauma that the disproportionate use of police powers can have on black Londoners.”

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