How Many Bad Apples?

By Tim Hardy

Keith Vaz told Sky News this afternoon that he found recent revelations of widespread racism in the Met depressing :

What’s depressing is that this is 2012, a generation after the Stephen Lawrence case and it’s disappointing that we, frankly, have so many police officers in the Met who are under investigation.

What is depressing is how long it has taken for police racism to come to broader public attention. For the story to finally break, it took a courageous young man recording officers calling him a nigger, boasting of how they had tried to strangle him and making veiled death threats . The CPS initially refused to prosecute the officers responsible.

The revelations of widespread racism in the ranks come as no surprise to the Newham Monitoring Project. They are already deeply concerned that the total policing measures planned for the Olympics will be an open invitation for more racial discrimination.

This evening the Guardian reveals that a secret report written eight years ago warning that police use of stop and search was fundamentally racist.

The report says officers were racially stereotyping African-Caribbean people as criminals, and thus disproportionately subjecting them to stop and search. It says officers were exercising the power without having the legal requirement of having reasonable suspicion that the person stopped was involved in crime: “Many police officers make the illegitimate step in their minds from ‘black people are disproportionately involved in crime’ to ‘the black person I am about to stop and search is likely to be a criminal’ without consideration of the other factors necessary to establish sufficient ‘reasonable grounds’.

“This completely understandable mistake amounts to racially stereotyping black people as criminals and this will be portrayed by some of our critics as deliberate police racism of the ‘racial hatred’ variety.”

African-Caribbean people are more likely to be victims rather than perpetrators of crime, the report adds.

Nothing in this report deliberately repressed by senior officers will come as a surprise to any young black man who finds himself stopped and searched repeatedly for no better reason than the colour of his skin.

Frequently I get stopped by the gammon

Coz my whip looks like it should be owned by

Jeremy Clarkson or Richard Hammond

Musician JME records each time he is stopped and searched by the police. Watch the videos and ask yourself – how many bad apples do we have to find before we accept that the Metropolitan police are institutionally racist and corrupt and that the CPS and IPCC are not fit for purpose?

The Green Party’s mayoral candidate Jenny Jones told the Guardian’s Dave Hill:

The Met must reduce the amount of wasteful stop and searches it currently carries out. Stop-and-search has been used so much it has alienated communities and hardened negative stereotypes. The Met need to move from the current blanket system to a more targeted approach which should hopefully go some way to reducing the racial disparity which has grown over recent years.

My personal feedback, from people who live in, for example, Tottenham and Southwark, is that this tactic is breeding resentment and even hatred in some communities. It’s a double problem of quantity and quality; when stop-and-search must be done it should be done with extreme politeness. Officers should have additional training and follow the example of the police in Northern Ireland who dramatically improved the relationship between themselves and the communities they were protecting.

This is a grown-up argument, very far from the macho posturing of Johnson who came close to blaming last summer’s riots as being caused by the police being too scared to crack heads following their murder of Ian Tomlinson.

Take the officer who allegedly pushed poor Ian Tomlinson during the G20 riots, a motion which may have been far less violent than some that have been recommended to the police over the past few days. He is facing a charge of manslaughter. That could mean life imprisonment. We need to decide at which end of the chain of events we want to be less squeamish.

Call me “squeamish” but I don’t think the police should be allowed to kill random people with impunity or harass people based on the colour of their skin. London desperately needs politicians who, rather than repeatedly sweeping the problem under the carpet, are willing to tackle the corruption in the Met.