November 25, Birmingham

November 18, Durham

November 11, Maidstone

November 4, Glasgow

October 28, Southampton

October 21, London

October 14, Sydney

October 7, Manchester

Thursday 30 September, Bournemouth

Thursday 23 September, London

Thursday 15 July, Belfast

Thursday 8 July, London

Thursday 1 July, Birmingham

Thursday 24 June, Leeds

Thursday 17 June, Manchester

Thursday 10 June, Birmingham

Thursday 3 June, Norwich

Thursday 27 May, Bath

Thursday 20 May, Belfast

Thursday 13 May, Birmingham

Thursday 29 April, London

Thursday 22 April, Glasgow

Thursday 15 April, Cardiff

Thursday 25 March, Sheffield

Thursday 18 March, London

Thursday 11 March, Manchester

Thursday 4 March, Maidstone

Thursday 25 February, London


Thursday 25 February, London

On the panel were:

  • Michael Mansfield QC, Lawrence family lawyer
  • Glen Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation
  • Paul Boateng, Home Office minister
  • Sir Norman Fowler, shadow home secretary
  • Annie Stewart, editor, The Voice

    Inquiry appendices naming police informants

    Audience question: How can the government convince the public it can act in the county's best interests given this grave error?

    Paul Boateng said: "Our obligation was to do what we promised Sir William, namely to give that report unedited, unaffected to Parliament ... Only the Inquiry team could have been aware of this error, the minute they told us about it we withdrew the appendices."

    Sir Norman Fowler said: "The Home Office needs to take responsibility for this and needs to explain what has happened."

    Glen Smyth said: "I would have thought that somebody would have proof-read this report and picked this up ... It just shows you how an innocent mistake can have massive repercussion ... It's very similar to many of the mistakes that the officers involved in the Inquiry were accused of."

    You said:

    As someone who's currently out of the country, I was appalled to hear of the 'mistake' of the witnesses' names being released, and whilst understanding Paul Condon's decision not to resign but to try to begin to reshape the police force on non-racist lines, I do not understand how this is going to come about without a major root and branch restructuring of the police. For too long they appear to have been a law unto themselves vis a vis racism. Can anyone explain why they were excluded from the Race Relations Act in the first place? What sort of society are we where it takes the actions of very brave parents to fight for justice against the machinery of the state and its institutions?
    Peter Smith

    If I made an 'innocent mistake' in my job which put other peoples' lives at risk I would be fired on the spot! What makes these people think they can just say it was a mistake and go on with the job as per usual?
    Colin Ferguson, Glasgow

    The publishing of the appendices of the inquiry report breached the Data Protection Act and I can't see what defence the Home Office would have in this respect.
    Adrian Majzlik

    Attack on Stephen Lawrence's memorial

    Audience question: What does it say about the police force when they can't even put a tape into a surveillance camera in such a sensitive area?

    Annie Stewart said: "I have to ask the same question ... It's just absolutely unbelievable."

    Glen Smyth said: "Whoever was responsible for the management of that camera, the decision to take it out, clearly made the wrong decision. I don't seek to defend that."

    Michael Mansfield said: "This illustrates yet again that really things haven't changed ... It seems to me again, it just illustrates I'm afraid, a distance and an arrogance in the way every single decision is taken."

    Paul Boateng said: "Disgraceful racist damage ... We've just got to make sure that this doesn't happen again."

    You said:

    Institutionalised racism is a malaise which will take decades to eject from the police force. With the issue of the continual vandalism of the memorial, the "camera" watching the memorial without a film, and the "inadvertent" release of informers names in the recent report is intolerable. Racism is an "acceptable" form of defence for the police, incompetence appears to hidden from the public eyes.
    Martin Adams

    Right from the moment the police turned up at the murder scene, the whole investigation has been plagued by racism and to this day there is still no sign of any change. The people involved in the investigation are too stubborn and pig-headed to accept that the blame lies with them,even though they know that what has happened is all their fault.
    Hitesh Patel

    The police service works within a tight budget and the access to CCTV cameras is limited. The decision was obviously made that the cameras were better deployed else where, possibly to assist in the prevention of serious or violent crime. Surely the protection of the public is more important than the protection of a memorial, no matter how emotive or politically sensitive it may be.
    John Baker

    I am utterly aghast at today's events - on top of everything else. My feeling is that the Met are as in need of review as the Gestapo. I'm also amazed how the main spokesperson for the Met is Glen Smyth. When I saw him tonight trying to relate how the mistake with the released witness names was similar to the racist enquiry undertaken by his "fellow" officers it made me realise how little has changed in the Met. I'm afraid I find his unctuous attitude as typical of the Met - people who have forgotten that they are public servants and not a group of freemasons who operate a "Grace and favour" system of policing.
    Jeremy Price, Hampshire

    I was shocked when I learned about the ignorance and incompetence of the Metropolitan Police when "investigating" the murder of Stephen Lawrence. But after the publication of the Macpherson report, and after all the assurances that the case would mark a "watershed" in race relations, I am completely lost for words to hear of the utter contempt shown by the authorities in failing to put any film in the security camera trained on the memorial plaque in Eltham. Has the police force learnt nothing over the last 6 years?
    Prakash Persaud

    Institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police

    Audience question: Should Sir Paul Condon do the honourable thing and stand down?

    Annie Stewart said: "There was no way that Condon was going to stand down ... because black people, we've got no power. We have no economic or political power."

    Paul Boateng said: "He accepts his responsibility and is absolutely determined to ensure that in the ten, eleven months remaining of his office he begins the process of turning the force round."

    Michael Mansfield said: "It's taken the Lawrence family to push him right up against the wire and at the very last minute he finally conceded unwitting racism ... Do you believe that that gentleman who spent so long resisting change is going to suddenly embrace it and apply it? I think not."

    Sir Norman Fowler said: "Had the report criticised him outright, then I think that he would have gone. I don't think there's any question about that at all .... One of the real big aims must be that the police now recruit more people from ethnic communities into the police itself."

    You said:

    The feeling of remorse and shame expressed by Sir Paul Condon is, I suspect, not shared by the rank and file of his establishment. Indeed, it would seem that from the various news reports and interviews of the last few days, that the frontline police personnel actually believe that they are victims of the media and not deserving of the criticism that they are getting. Until these people (not the entire police force) accept that they are the problem then nothing will change. I for one do not believe that these die-hard racists will ever change. We have all seen this before and no doubt after another racist murder in the future we will see it all again.
    Gurinder P

    I think that he should step down and that there should be some reasoning established to the people of why this happened.
    John Smith

    Sir Paul Condon should resign due the incompetence that he has shown throughout this whole inquiry. The fact that he is not willing to respond to the Lawrence family by offering them an out-of-court settlement shows that he is nothing but a racist.
    David Rolph

    I am sick of the Home Secretary Jack Straw defending the Chief Constable Sir Paul Condon about the appalling inquiry into the MURDER of a young black soul Stephen Lawrence, this poor young boy was only waiting for a bus and yet he died for it because he was black and that was the just cause for him to die? I doubt very much that Tony Blair and Jack Straw would have made such a public apology into the handling of the inquiry by the Met if the Stephens family had not pushed the public inquiry so far. God help us if we are going into the next millennium and are seeking peace in Ireland amongst the Catholics and the Protestants and also seeking peace in Kosovo but yet we cannot seek racial equality in multi-cultural Britain today. Can we really say that we are a nation of people who are equal in our own individual ways, can anyone reassure me as a British-born Asian in England today that life will get better?
    Shamsur Rehman

    Sir Paul Condon should have resigned his position. It has been shown that the police force he represents has created an unacceptable situation. It was not that long ago that he he made it clear that he did not feel his police force was institutionally racist yet he now states that it recognises it is, but during his so-called apology he continued by making a speech that contained justification and a lack of responsibility for the situation that he created. His removal would not be a case of justice but would show that he does indeed take responsibility. It would show the public the seriousness of the current climate within the police force and an apology wrapped up in a personal agenda is not moving this situation forward.
    Dean  

    I am by no means a racist, but I cannot understand why Sir Paul Condon is being punished in this way when if this had not been a black killing there would have been nothing made of it. Is that not prejudice?
    Peter Bryant, Somerset

    If Sir Paul Condon had any honor he would resign. It doesn't matter whether he was personally singled out for any measure of responsibility or not; he is the person at whom the buck stops and he must take responsibility for the total failure of the organization he leads. As a British subject who has lived in the United States for 16 years, I feel the shame of joining the citizens of this country in a joint legacy of institutional racism. My heart goes out to the Lawrence family.
    Jeannie Brooks, USA

    Improving race relations

    Audience question: How can the government promote the Metropolitan police as an attractive career option to members of the young black community?

    Paul Boateng said: "The Home Secretary is working with the Black Police Association in order to make sure that we address those issues of the profile and the expectation that a young black person would have on joining the force. Because there are already an increased number of black men and women working in the Met."

    Annie Stewart said: "Black people do join the police force, the problem is they don't stay."

    Norman Fowler said: "I'm in favour of having a target ... if you look at it from other countries, the reputation of the British police is actually a very strong reputation."

    Michael Mansfield said: "We have to have a democratically controlled and responsive police service in which, whether it has a domination of white or black, the black community feel that the white police officers respect the black community."

    You said:

    I don't understand how recruiting more black officers can help. The issue of racism cannot be dealt with by balancing the numbers! The way to deal with the problem is education. I think that getting more black people in the police force will only provoke the excisting racists and the idea in itself is a racist one!
    Shai Diamond

    I agree with the need for a radical overhaul of the Met - and indeed, for a cold, clinical look at the attitudes within UK police forces in general. However, I am a little worried about target-setting. Targets must be realistic and achieveable within the given time-frame; if they are set too high to begin with, what happens when the deadline approaches and the quota has not been filled? We need the highest quality in the people we appoint to look after our safety. Let's take great care, move steadily and purposefully and get it right!
    Elizabeth Johnson

    During the debate on Thursday night the subject of ethnic minority "quotas" in the Police Service was raised. This very simple answer to the complex problem of racial tension was seized by the American Authorities in 1964 following the Watts riots and summer of discontent in American cities. Dispite the comments of Lord Scarman in 1981 which finishes with a direct comparison to the American reports, and a further 20 years of inner-city flashpoints, we are only just thinking of grasping the nettle. As a Police Officer I think that positive discrimination and minimum targets are long overdue and have no problem with seeing my black colleques pushed through the promotion system.
    H.A.L Beresford

    I don't believe in British justice because it failed so many coloured people like Stephen Lawrence and Carl Josephs and I am sure more shall suffer from the institutionalised racism in England. The police are racists and you can see it all in Birmingham.
    Zubada Akhtar

    As I'm concerned, only Michael Mansfield and a few others touched on the real issues. I think the government must be either naive or stupid to believe after the decades of treatment to non-whites that because of this inquiry, all of a sudden non-whites are going to jump up and join the police force so the government can make up the numbers.I suggest that the government wakes up and comes back to reality. Unless you have experienced the abuse of power by the police force like us black people and other non-whites then I personally think you should not pass comment on our reactions.
    Jason, UK

    The only way forward for us all is education. What we seem to forget is that the Police are members of society like ourselves. Therefore racism in present in society, not just the Police. When we accept and acknowledge this, we should educate our children about different cultures, we will be educating a percentage of the new Officers. The racist officers who are presently serving will be very difficult to find and remove. We can hope that whoever replaces them will be serve the community impartial to Colour, Race etc.
    Daniel Francis

    The rank-and-file members of the police service do not wish to be associated with racist attitudes and the vast majority do not exhibit racist behaviour in their everyday duties. This whole debate has centred around the police investigation of an incident, and it seems that the appalling actions of a group of thugs, for which society as a whole must take responsibility, have been forgotten. The debate should not be about why these thugs were not brought to justice, but about why such people exist within our society in the first place. The police service cannot change society, it is time that those who can - the government, education authorities and the media - began to accept their responsibilities and bring about the fundamental change that the Mcpherson report demands.
    John Baker

    The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry has brought into the public eye the distrust of blacks towards the police, but also the general lack of credibility and trust that the police have by blacks and whites must also be taken on board. No-one can trust them any more.
    Ian Horn, Liverpool

    I truly believe that the way the police dealt with the whole thing is a disgrace and the police should really take time think about how black people have been treated over the years. My deepest condolences go out to the Lawrence family.
    Randolph Sutherland

    I heartily agree with the points raised concerning the Lawrence case. However, I would point out to Paul Boateng that it is not only the black community who have lost confidence in the Police Force; I believe we all have.
    Paul Courtnage

    I am a police officer currently serving in a county force and served within the Metropolitan Police for five years. My point is that on most occasions I stopped a coloured person in a vehicle the immediate response was, 'you only stopped me cos I'm black'. Now call me cynical, but, if I'm following a vehicle, it's dark outside, I'm 20 or so yards behind the vehicle. The face of the driver is facing away from me, it's obscured by the headrest, PLEASE CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME HOW ON EARTH I CAN SEE WHAT COLOUR THE DRIVER IS? Police officers will generally stop a car because of the type of car it is not because of who is driving it as 9/10 times they do not see the driver. I am fed up with being branded a racist because of the job I do. I will arrest /stop/search, whites, blacks, pink with yellow spots if I feel it will protect someone from being a victim of crime. I'm pretty certain most police officers will agree with me.
    Andy Holgate

    The Stephen Lawrence report does not only highlight a racism problem with the police although there is undoubtedly a serious one. It is clear that there are also serious accountability and competency problems. The current complaints system and the legal system as a whole does not function when it comes to complaints about police action. The competency issue does not seem to be discussed in the comments I have seen (I am out of the country at the moment). This is also a very serious concern as the public can have no faith in any investigation by a body which has shown itself to be so incompetent. A complete overall of the control, training and regulation of the police is required.
    Alan Johnson, Brit working in Israel

    Your email views

    I think it is quite laughable how the report is labelled a 'radical document'. All it has done is put on paper what the black community has not only known, but had to face and live with for decades. I further think it is laughable that Jack Straw thinks that Paul Condon should keep his job despite the reports findings and Sir Condon's own personal beliefs. Without a doubt Sir Paul must go. Reform cannot come about without a person or institution realising that something is wrong and change is needed. He had the opportunity time after time, but no offer was forthcoming. I can identify with the claims of harrassment experienced by black youths on the street for I myself am a constant victim, I too can identify with the incompetence of the police to follow up complaints made by members of the black community for I have been a victim of that also.
    Jeremy Cedenio

    I am only 15 years old so some may say that I am too young to understand racism, but what I do understand makes me angry. Stephen shouldn't have had to die in order for us to do something about racism.
    Alice

    I think all police forces should resign and be replaced by those who continually criticize them. It is so easy to be a critic. I wonder who they call first when they believe a robber is in their homes.
    A Coulter, Northern Ireland

    It is sad that no mention appears to have been made of the fact that the large majority of murders of blacks and Asians are solved by a supposedly "racist" police force. Of course the Lawrence family have suffered a miscarriage of justice and one's heart goes out to them. However, there are occasions when the police do display incompetence. It is grotesquely unfair to brand the police as "institutionally racist" as McPherson does.
    Sean Fear

    Someone, somewhere, should fight to retain some sense of perspective on the entire tragic Lawrence affair. Yes, it was a brutal and senseless murder; and yes, Stephen Lawrence's parents had every right to expect and demand that the police treat their son's killing with the seriousness it deserved - as would the parents of any murder victim. But that is the key point: there are, tragically, all too many such victims of equally brutal and senseless killings. That race was not a factor which motivated their killers does not lessen the pain and grief suffered by their families; their lives do not somehow have any less value or their deaths any less impact because of it. Nor does it mitigate the sense of injustice felt at the cheapening of human life by the insultingly lenient sentences imposed by some courts in cases of drink-drive killing, for example. Yet the relentless, disproportionate focus on the Lawrence case is in danger of treating it almost as though it were the worst, or indeed only, violent crime - or case of injustice - in the last decade.
    Mark Powell

    One of the points that constantly seems to be raised in the Stephen Lawrence affair is "institutionalized racism" within the police force. Everyone is saying the police force must change. The police force is made up of members of society, and it is that society that is racist. In order to effect real change we must endeavour to change attitudes to racism not just in the police force, but in the society we live in as a whole.
    Matthew Glenholme

    It was suggested that education was the key, but against this another contributor said that young children are not racist. I suggest that when they go to school they are told that evolution is true and that some 'races' have evolved quicker than others and these are to be despised. Whilst this pernicious nonsense is taught racism will continue. The Bible on the other hand teaches that there is only one race ie the human race and that all are sinners who stand in the need of a Saviour, Jesus Christ, who treated all equally. There has to be a basis for morals. One cannot teach an anti moral philosophy and then impose morals on it and expect people to adhere to it.
    Adrienne Franklin

    Being born in England and migrating to Canada as a small boy, I've always believe that the race relations in the UK between blacks and the police was better than here. Needless to say my view has changed. I believe that not only has the family suffered needlessly, but the whole police force should be re-vamped.
    Michael Williams, Canada

    I think it is absolutely ludricous the murderers have not been bought to justice in this very racist society. Surely to let Stephen rest in preace these hooligans need to be caught in the name of justice and all the black community living in this country.
    Khalid Raheem

    As usual on race matters, your audience did not mention the true, irrefutable background to the Lawrence case, that of the disastrous immigration policies of post-war governments. This report is the offspring of an incompetent police investigation, advising a handing over of the sort of power to extremists that even the Left of the 80s would have baulked at. The divisive, resent-breeding features of it have been dressed up in ¿respectable¿ clothes cynically donned in the event of a tragedy, and unwittingly represent a bigger argument against mass immigration than could ever be dreamed up by any fascist. It was sad to see Question Time pander to this unfair and misguided report by devoting one entire programme to it.
    R D Lewin

    I was so impressed by the well informed and well managed debate that was able to be had on the programme last night. I feared it would disintegrate into a shouting match and yet everyone who spoke appeared so well informed and articulate. I perhaps was most impressed (as a caucasian )by the contrasting calmness of the black speakers. I feel quite humbled as a result of seeing the programme.
    Tim Coleman

    The recent inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence, has highlighted what many of us already suspected: that the Metropolitan Police is rife with a culture of instutionalised racism. The question now is what is going to be done to root out this racism and will the police fully pursue the racist killers, not only of Stephen Lawrence but of other black and Asian victims.
    Matthew Cosgrove

    The police made many mistakes they could have made if the boy was black, white, red, or gold. This should not be used as a moral stand on racism. Black people will use anything to make waves and create uproar.
    Jennifer, London

    Towards the end of the programme a woman expressed what was within the audience a minority view. Paul Boateng's response was vicious and unbalanced. Surely this kind of inappropriate behaviour can only increase xenophobia. I believe ethnic minorities ought to be better represented within the police. But can young people really identify with somebody like Boateng?
    Jonathan Crocker

    The media for once has managed to do its job. Publishing the names of the five suspects has prevented them from living a normal life for the foreseeable future, and I am glad for that much. Perhaps it is now time that the media led a concerted campaign to bring about changes in the law. If someone can force a re-trial for whatever reason to change or overturn a guilty verdict, then surely the same thing should be allowed in reverse. I doubt that too many people would be upset to see the five suspects in court again.
    Gordon

    It seems a great pity that such a tragedy as this is used to pursue an agenda. Without knowing all the facts and not being there, I would have to accept the results on the inquiry. However, it should never be forgotten that the only people responsible for the killing of Stephen are the perpetrators themselves. To label an entire community seems unjust. Why do we feel such a need?
    Clifford Jones

    I would like to know what is being done NOW to catch the killers of Stephen Lawrence. I believe that the suspects should be given a retrial. I realise under normal circumstances a retrial would not be allowed, but the fact that the police were incompetent and that their incompetence affected the whole case, points to the fact that justice was not done even before the case got to court. This fact alone should be reason enough for a retrial. Yes the police were incompetent, yes racism does exist and yes it is appalling and yes this problem should be rectified. The fact is justice has still not been done for the Lawrence family. I would like to see the murderers caught to enable the WHOLE of our nation's public to move towards some hope of restoring faith in the police.
    Miss Melinda Marter

    You cannot legislate away hatred; people are free to feel as they please, but there are laws against violence, defamation, vandalism, etc., and somewhere, out there someone knows who did it. If the reward is high enough, greed answers all does it not. Am in the USA: just found this page, and it is very informative - like reading the USA paper, only with a little more self-control, self-respect, and self-discipline in expressing your view.
    Colleen Jones, Ohio, USA

    How do the police expect the confidence of the wide public when they repudiate all criticism of themselves? In contrast assess their response to the Sheehy Report.
    Dr Iverson Taylor

    The attack on Stephen, the vandalism of his memorial and other racist attacks proves one thing: that the attackers and many others in society harbour racist attitudes. A change in the police service will merely punish those who are caught. The real battle is changing the hearts and minds of racist individuals. A ban on nationalist parties, such as the BNP, is the only way to wash away such discrimination in society and remove the scourge of this generation.
    Fasal Raza

    Until Stephen's killers are brought to justice, how can anyone claim that they have learned anything?
    Jonathan Herd

    What's extraordinary is that, in this country, the vast majority of us have bent over backwards to help people with whom we have minimal historical and cultural affinity and we STILL get criticised for not making enough! The root of the issue is that successive post-war governments have not made any real effort to curb a constant flow of immigrants.
    Roger Howard

    It would seem from watching the programme that there is racism on both sides. The Steven Lawrence case has served to highlight the division in British society and it is not just the fault of the police or the white community. The black and Asian communities must take responsibility for integration into British society.
    Chris Grime





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