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Stephen Lawrence Wednesday, 24 February, 1999, 18:54 GMT
Report hailed as 'step forward'
The Met is not "institutionally racist" says an Asian PC
The dramatic findings of the Macpherson inquiry have been welcomed by at least one rank and file policeman from an ethnic minority.

The Metropolitan Police constable said he believed racism in the force should be tackled, and he hailed the report as a "step forward".

But he took issue with the central-most conclusion, backed by Home Secretary Jack Straw, that there is institutional racism in the force.

Instead the Asian constable said the Met is infected by a "few bad apples".

Racism is still apparant in "canteen banter"
He also commented that money, not bigotry, was the biggest bar to recruiting more Asians into the job.

"I don't believe [the Metropolitan Police] is institutionally racist. There are just a minor few; probably 10%," said the PC, who asked not to be named.

Only once had he been the direct target of a racist comment from a colleague. It was more common to hear fellow officers make derogatory comments about black or Asian members of the public.

"It's the old canteen banter. You might be sitting there and someone will say 'that silly paki' but it's not directed at me and they'll say 'sorry we didn't mean it to you, we were only joking'."

"There's nothing I can do because I know it would make my life hell. If it hurts me but not my family then I'm not too bothered," he told BBC News Online.

Double-edged sword

And hurtful jibes are just as likely to come from his own community.

"Four Asian youths stopped me in the street the other day and said 'how can you do that job?' But I'm proud to be a policeman."

A PC with more than seven years' experience, he has tried and failed twice to make the jump to sergeant. But this he puts down to failing the exam, rather than ingrained bigotry in his superiors.

"I know a black sergeant who just passed and he deserved it. I know a white colleague who didn't and he deserved [to be a sergeant] as well."

As for Home Secretary Jack Straw's backing of targets for recruiting officers, the constable said money not racism was the major bar to attracting more Asians into the job.

Money bar

"I know six or seven Asian people who wanted to be police officers but the wages that they're giving at the moment are not good enough."

Instead they have their sights set on becoming professionals - "doctors, solicitors, computer engineers".

Although he is used to "knuckling down" and ignoring the prejudices of others, he backs Mr Straw's plans to crack down on bullies in the force.

See also:

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