Met Police Chief: We’ll sack racist officers

Cressida Dick and Sadiq Khan (Kirsty O'Connor/Victoria Jones/PA)
Cressida Dick and Sadiq Khan (Kirsty O'Connor/Victoria Jones/PA)
18:06pm, Fri 13 Nov 2020
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The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has assured Londoners racist officers will be sacked after admitting her force “is not free of discrimination, racism or bias”.

Dame Cressida Dick said the Met will “strain every sinew” to hit a target 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.

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.

Speaking outside Brixton police station, in south London, after a foot patrol of the area on Friday afternoon, Dame Cressida said the Met is working with Mr Khan and agrees with about 98% of his plan.

She announced an immediate return of a London residency requirement for most new recruits, meaning they will have to have lived in the capital for three of the past six years.

“I think it’s good for London and Londoners that the police service reflects and understands London,” she said.

The commissioner said she felt “very sorry” that trust of the police among black communities is so low and admitted: “We need to do more to show people that we have zero tolerance of racism.”

“There are over 40,000 people in the Metropolitan Police Service and I have always said we are not free of racism, we are not free of bias or discrimination,” she said.

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 know there is more for us to do to gain the confidence of all of our communities.

“I want all of our communities to trust the Met, I want the Met to be the most trusted police service in the world,” she said.

“But sometimes things go wrong and we do, as you will see, where people have been thoroughly negligent, if they have been, or if this is an event where somebody has been badly injured because policing involves using force, then the Independent Office for Police Conduct will do their investigation, they will come to their conclusions and you see that officers, for example, I’m not talking about the videos we have seen this summer, but officers, for example, that display racism are sacked.

“That’s what we do and quite right to.”

Bianca Williams (Jonathan Brady/PA) (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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