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The BBC's Barnie Choudhury
examines Dr Fitzgeralds criticism of the Macpherson report
 real 28k

Dr Marian Fitzgerald and Lawrence family lawyer
Imran Khan debate the effectiveness of the Macpherson report
 real 28k

Glen Smyth, Met Police Federation
"What the report has done is raise huge expectations...but it doesn't give any solutions"
 real 28k

Friday, 1 June, 2001, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Lawrence report 'no help whatsoever'
Stephen Lawrence
The report has "exacerbated tensions"
A former Home Office advisor has strongly criticised the official report into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

In a book published on Friday, Dr Marian Fitzgerald said the Macpherson report had failed ethnic minorities and led to a potential backlash among whites.

"It has given no help whatsoever," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Stephen Lawrence, 18, died after being stabbed at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, in April, 1993.

Dr Marian Fitzgerald
Dr Fitzgerald: "We've got a mess"
After a public outcry over the failure to bring his white killers to justice, Sir William Macpherson's report found that "institutional racism" existed within the Metropolitan Police and other organisations.

Dr Fitzgerald said of the report: "It lacked definition, it lacked precision, we've got a mess."

She said it "turns everything that happens to ethnic minorities into a problem that's to do with race."

Dr Fitzgerald believes the result has been that wider issues such as unemployment and alienation have been ignored when the authorities consider incidents such as the Oldham riots.

That, she said, was "exacerbating tension" and leading to a groundswell of backlash among young disaffected whites, who felt minorities were being given preferential treatment.

Sir William Macpherson
Macpherson: "Made racism official"
Dr Fitzgerald said "institutional racism" had been an "empty phrase" which had confused people.

She said the report neither clearly defined what the problems were, nor offered any practical basis for action - so little progress had been made despite many efforts.

But the Lawrence family's lawyer Imran Khan disagreed.

"There has been a profound change," he said.

"What the report has done is to articulate for the first time in official circles the fact that racism exists. It's made racism official," he said.

What the report has done is to articulate for the first time in official circles the fact that racism exists

Imran Khan

He also said the report made very clear what the phrase "institutionalised racism" means.

"It's about outcomes. It's the way in which for example we have disproportionality in stop and search, disproportionality in numbers of black deaths in custody, and so on."

The report made 70 recommendations for improving police attitudes to racism.

On Friday Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Glen Smyth said the report had made things more "challenging" for the police.

"It's raised huge expectations but doesn't actually give any solutions," he said.

But he said there had been positive effects as well, with many practical steps, such as family liaison and lay advice for officers, being put in place.

"The Met is a better, stronger force now than it was before," he said.

However, he said there was a lot more that needed to be done by society in general.

"It really behoves politicians to get social policy right so the incidents that took place in Oldham, for example, become something of the past."

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See also:

04 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Macpherson receives death threats
14 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hague takes aim at Lawrence report
17 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Police morale 'worst yet'
20 Oct 00 | UK
Lawrences to 'fight on'
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