Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Sunday, 15 February 2009

Police accused over race equality

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence was murdered by white youths in 1993

Police forces in England and Wales are still institutionally racist despite attempts to confront the issue, a review claims.

The report criticised failures to recruit and keep black officers and the reliance on stop and search techniques.

The Runnymede Trust also said some forces were "dragging their feet" when it came to reporting racist offences.

The findings come from the Trust's review, The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 10 Years On.

'Significant problems'

The review looked at the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was killed in an unprovoked racist knife attack by a gang of white youths in April 1993.

In 1999, the Macpherson Inquiry severely criticised police for the handling of the subsequent murder investigation.

The Runnymede Trust - a body that specialises in studying equality - singled out the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for praise for its work on recording and monitoring data related to racist incidents.

However, its review found in the intervening years since the inquiry there were still significant problems.

It said black and minority ethnic officers were more likely to be dismissed than white colleagues.

A disproportionate amount of black and minority ethnic officers left their police careers early, the report also found.

I think it can be said that the police are still institutionally racist
Rob Berkeley, Runnymede Trust director

The report said: "While much is made of the fact that the percentage of officers from these backgrounds has doubled between 1999 and 2008, in reality this is only from a relatively low starting-point of 2% to approximately 4%.

"This is considerably below the national target (7%) set for the police service overall.

"It is difficult, in light of these continued challenges, to argue that the charge of institutional racism no longer applies," the report said.

Rob Berkeley, director of the Runnymede Trust said: "I think it can be said that the police are still institutionally racist.

"There's lots of controversy about the term, but if they were in 1999 they still are in 2009."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We are determined to work with the police service to offer fair and equal opportunities to all its members, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or background.

"We have already come a long way: over the last 10 years minority ethnic officer representation in the police service has doubled."

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