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Last Updated: Monday, 3 November, 2003, 10:07 GMT
Police racism: What did you think of the film?
Another police officer has resigned bringing the total to six resignations and two suspensions after the screening of an undercover BBC documentary.

The Secret Policeman exposed racism among new recruits at a training centre in Cheshire.

The film featured footage of one officer dressing up in an improvised Ku Klux Klan hood. Another officer made racist remarks about murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence and others used terms such as "nigger" and "Paki" on a regular basis.

The BBC has been criticised by Home Secretary David Blunkett for the undercover techniques used in the programme, but producers insisted it was the only way to gather the evidence.

What did you think of the documentary? Send us your views.


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

I think the BBC documentary will make a difference. What the documentary highlighted is that the police recruitment system needs to be changed drastically. Firstly there needs to be some type of system to detect the racist beliefs of possible new recruits and secondly there needs to be a big drive by GMP to recruit more Asian and Black officers.
K John, UK

If you want a police force which adheres to high moral principles, appoint Muslim officers as commanders. At the same time, members of religious groups known for their racist views should be banned from public service altogether.
Karim Abu Ahmed, UK

The most effective form of anti-racist activity is exposure
Kevin Moses, UK/USA
As a Briton I am convinced that the most effective form of anti-racist activity is exposure. The BBC footage contained in "The Secret Policeman" was just plain great. It was obtained by a reporter masquerading as a consenting white Briton who moved into that now heavily cloaked sector of society where racism is permissible. There needs to be more of this anti-racist activity not less. Blunkett's "stunt' denunciation speaks volumes on the character of the man.
Kevin Moses, UK/USA

The documentary, will do little to change anything. The hardcore racists are still at large and the institution of the Police force will always be considered racist. This is a shame considering efforts that the police force has made to change that image. I am a black man from a rough inner city area and have experienced racism first hand from police in my youth. A lot has changed. The problem is that not enough people from these same inner city areas want to get involved in police work. So the police force have to recruit from the pool that is existing in order to achieve recruitment targets. Hence sick people like the ones shown get through.
Dom, UK

As a Police Officer for the past twenty plus years, I wish to thank both the BBC and specifically Mark Daly for revealing what many of us have known for many years, that racism is alive and well within the service, just slightly more covert than it used to be. It is a shame that it has taken such a public expose that is very embarrassing to the service and the Home Office to get people to sit up, when the Black Police Associations have been highlighting this for years.
RJUP, UK

Without drastic action nothing will have been achieved by Mr. Daly's valiant efforts
Rae, UK
After weeks of recrimination, condemnation and praise of this report the question we should all be asking is 'what do we do now?' Yes, the men featured have resigned and been suspended and the papers have moved on to the next 'big story' but the fact that this report has highlighted underground racists in a once revered institution shows that efforts thus far to eradicate such conscripts has been futile. As the sister of a black officer I'd like to think that in time the police service can transform itself but without drastic action nothing will have been achieved by Mr. Daly's valiant efforts. As this comments board shows, the fact that there are still people out there in the wider community, where these men are drawn from, that think their overtly racist and violent opinions are those of the majority not the minority quite frankly scares me. At times I struggle to say I'm proud to be born British and Black, and it's the comments of these bigots which causes my hesitation.
Rae, UK

It was a documentary I wish I hadn't watched. There was nothing uplifting about it. The reporter was using a privileged position to gain the trust of very young recruits at their most vulnerable. I found the whole thing totally distasteful. If anyone thinks those young men's live should be destroyed because of their outrageous comments, go to any pub anywhere in the country. I absolutely loathe racism - it's beyond my comprehension. But I wasn't amused about the circumstances in which that reporter has destroyed these young men's lives. I would call him two-faced. I hope somewhere in his soul he's ashamed of himself but he'll get loads of money so that's probably the bottom line.
Sylvia, UK

It's clear from some of the comment posted below the sir Humphrey was right when he said that what people object to was being told. It's not the BBC or the program that creates distrust of the police, it's the appalling behaviour of the few that tar this country's much needed and for the utmost part professional police force. I would thank the BBC and urge them to continue to root out bigotry in our police force.
Dan, UK

The undercover journalist who infiltrated the police force to gain information on racist attitudes of police officers should be reprimanded for his actions. When Colin Stagg was being used by a police woman some years ago to confess to a murder on Wimbledon common the judge threw the case out on the grounds of "Entrapment" That is exactly what has happened in this documentary.
James Hepting, England

There was a similar "fast-tracking" of Black officers in the 60s. My father was training at Hendon at that time, the only people that complained then were the racist ones. So nothings changed. We are no nearer with attitudes like that, of making the present day police force a true reflection of the multi-cultural Britain of today. What about the next hurdle? Black on White/Brown racism. When will it end?
Suzanne, UK

Perhaps the Police Service should consider tightening up the checks on candidate's suitability
Dave, England
It certainly shows how pathetically easy it is to get into the police force these days when not only are they taking unsuitable racist recruits but undercover BBC reporters, who join the police force under false pretences and are only there for the story. Perhaps the Police Service should consider tightening up the checks on candidate's suitability and honesty.
Dave, England

I have worked within the community for 11 years. That community and indeed my colleagues, have a range of gender, race, sexual orientation, language and religious backgrounds. All of my workmates have always given 110% effort to providing a quality service. Everyone gets along, and there is a huge amount of respect for each other and for the public at large. I am a Police officer in one of the 'highlighted' forces. All of my colleagues are appalled and furious at the people shown behaving so disgracefully. It is so desperately sad that we are all now under the hammer. And so awful to hear people say that they 'fear and distrust' officers so vehemently. Despite the negative angle taken by the media, please understand that the service is overwhelmingly staffed by thoroughly decent, hard working and fair members of the public.
Daf, UK

Brilliant piece of journalism. The sooner the police and the government wake up to the fact that there is a lot of racism within the police force the better. The interview process for prospective police officers should be addressed to ensure that racist people are weeded out. The interviewers need to look more closely at the person in front of them as it is easy for the interviewee to give off totally different signals as was identified in this film. Well done the BBC and hopefully only better policing will result and trust will continue amongst the public.
Penny J. Jordan, UK

This should not be allowed to deflect us from the good work being done in many communities
George Wilson, UK
As a serving police officer I am ashamed to see the actions of a limited number of police recruits, this should not be allowed to deflect us from the good work being done in many communities where police officers work hard to break down barriers with the communities they police. I work in a large inner city where officers regularly work with a wide variety of ethnic communities. I am glad to say where I work, I have never seen such behaviour displayed by any of the officers.
George Wilson, UK

I have read with interest the comments about this programe and the impact it has had, I am a serving police officer with 5 years service I am also a social policy graduate. The one core element that I feel this programe helps to highlight is the very complicated issue of race and racism facing the country as a whole, there are no clear cut boundries on the issue of race and racism. You only need to pick up a newspaper on any day to see headlines on immigration and 'soft touch' Britain, from this point its very easy to move to the veiw that 'outsiders'cannot be trusted to overt racism. In essence I feel that the programme will do immense damage to my institution and also that by association I am tarred with the same brush as the now ex-Pc from North Wales police.
Alex Howden, UK

The views expressed in this programme were indeed disgusting. However, it is galling for white trainees to see ethnic minority recruits enter training in three weeks (together with a personal call from the chief inspector) when their applications took several months. This kind of fast tracking, positive discrimination etc. only breeds resentment and may lead to some toppling over into racist attitudes.
Darren, UK

It is grossly unfair to paint a picture of the modern police service as being full of closet racists
Jeff Wheble, UK
Whilst I am glad to see that these bigots have been exposed it is grossly unfair to paint a picture of the modern police service as being full of closet racists. Every single large organisation in this country has its share of bigots, including that paragon of virtue the BBC. The difference is, the police service is one of the only ones that is trying to take positive steps to ensure such people are detected before getting into uniform. The documentary simply goes to show that there is no effective way of screening out such people; you simply cannot find out what views a person holds if they don't want you to know. The vast majority of police officers in this country do a difficult and demanding job without prejudice; some balance should be brought to this debate instead of it becoming a witch-hunt against the entire service.
Jeff Wheble, UK

A fantastic documentary, it only needs to be repeated in every other industry now. I recently put my own career on the line standing up to my bosses over their employment policies (binning the cvs of anyone who wasn't an 'English Rose'). I've left now and hope I don't have to witness the same ever again.
Anon, Surrey

I am quite amazed that the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester should have launched a tirade against the BBC back in August when the presence of the undercover reporter was first made known. He called the BBC's behaviour reprehensible and deplorable - and it seems he said this without knowing the extent of the reporter's discoveries. That strikes me as incredibly naive. Anyway, well done the BBC, an excellent, brave and necessary bit of reporting.
Wayne Wright, UK

I have lost all faith in the police. Racism destroys lives - have racists any idea what they are doing to people?
Tessa, UK

I think it was a disgrace and if it is these kinds of people that are maintaining order in our country then they what hope do we have in becoming an equal society?
Gurjit Singh, UK

It was mind numbing to even be associated with such bigots by the fact I wear the uniform
David, Lancashire
I'm a police officer with 22 years service in the Lancashire Force. Like many others I was shocked by the racist attitudes of the 'police officers' shown on the documentary. It was mind numbing to even be associated with such bigots by the fact I wear the uniform as well. I work in a station where we have a large proportion of ethnic employees, and when I went into work the day after the documentary I felt embarrassed in their presence. I joined the police service to serve the community, regardless of creed, colour, race or sexuality, and I will continue to work by those morals till I retire. I do not know what the solution is, but hope that one day the police can be looked upon by all sections of our British society as impartial, upholders of the law.
David, Lancashire UK

Whilst I accept that the actions of this officer were extreme, it is true that a multi-cultural society is not wanted by everyone. In some areas, this has worked well, such as the South East. However you only have to look at the Bradford riots to see how badly multicultural communities can go wrong. The government won't offer a referendum on such matters, as it would be afraid of being branded "racist" itself.
Mr X, UK

It would be nice to believe that the Police were recruited for their sense of British fair-play and justice, but my own experience of being harassed tells me many recruits are simply on a 'Power trip'. The Police Administration in charge of recruitment should take responsibility The BBC did a great service with this Police expose'. David Blunkett should be praising the BBC, and give the reporter Mr. Mark Daly a medal for his heroic reporting. I believe he and his family will become be a Police target in spite of his bravery, and I'm not surprised that they have arrested him!
Colline Sherby, Canada

People need to know, because it is unjust and unfair.
Bekah Atkins, UK

We shall never stop people having racist thoughts and opinions and it is not illegal to have these thoughts. It is, however, illegal to use these opinions to influence your behaviour in carrying out your work or to incite trouble. In my experience many members of the police force hold racist views and they can not therefore carry out their duties impartially.
Bernard, UK

The disturbing fact is what kind of society we live in
CD, Germany
These police officers come from a normal society, the disturbing fact is what kind of society we live in and how the children are brought up to become such yobs? Through satellite TV the whole world is now in your living room and it does not paint a respectable picture of English society.
CD, Germany

Unfortunately racism and bigotry exists in all walks of life, I wish I knew the answer.
Steve Whelan, England

I am a recently retired Detective Chief Inspector in the Metropolitan Police after 30 years service. I am a founder member and past Chairman of the Black Police Association. It is my view that Mark Daly has done an excellent job in the public interest.
David Michael, UK

I have been in a position to travel and spend some time in other countries and judge by myself the quality of their policing. Although there are problems in UK police forces, my impression is that the situation in general is not nearly that bad as described in The Secret Policemen. These individuals, however sick their attitudes are, represent only a minority of 120 trainees who attended the course.
Almir Begovic, London/Uk

I am from an ethnic background and I have spent time as a special constable so as to genuinely give something back to society. I am currently going through the recruitment process with the police service to join as a regular officer. Although this programme hit me hard and made me think twice, I have decided that if there is one way to tackle such behaviour it is by integrating with those very people who hold such views as shown on TV.
S. Hussain, UK/ North West

Perhaps the police should put undercover officers with their trainees from time to time. The knowledge that they could be monitored will at least make them less likely to be openly racist.
David, UK

We the public have the duty and the privilege to blow the whistle on things that are not right and expose these wrongdoers for what they are
Hazel, UK
In every establishment there is a "bad penny", be it racist police, paedophiles amongst teachers and the clergy, embezzlers amongst the bankers or perverts and murderers in the medical profession to name a few. We the public have the duty and the privilege to blow the whistle on things that are not right and expose these wrongdoers for what they are.
Hazel, UK

A couple of years back we had a police officer as a next-door neighbour over dinner one night, he cheerfully told us that it was normal policy when seeing "a black" driving a van through a smart housing estate to treat the person as a suspect. So, no, the programme held no surprises for me.
Dave, UK

When I watched the programme I was absolutely disgusted. All the BBC did was shed a bad light on the police force. 99% of whom are good honest caring people who have chosen a career that enables them to help people who are suffering from a crime of some sort. I cannot deny that there are a few bad people in the police force but that is such a minority and happens in every job.
This programme only makes people more uncertain about going to the police when they have a problem. Why is it that there is no programme being aired that shows the police as they really are, trying to help people in a society that now seems to have more sympathy for villains than victims.
Fiona Stanton, England

The statements of Richard Pulling haunt me
Bithika Bhatnagar, UK
I have come from India to the UK for a short visit. And until now I was enjoying my stay. But Tuesday's documentary made me feel sick. The statements of Richard Pulling haunt me. Behind the face of every smiling English person, I see the face of Richard Pulling. It has just shattered my view of English people being decent and courteous.
Bithika Bhatnagar, UK

I joined the police 14 years ago. I was shocked and saddened to see the attitudes held by the police officers on the BBC film. Please remember that these were men who joined with racist views, and they simply reflect the views of others like them in society.
Martin, Lancashire, UK

I have just returned from living overseas for the last 8 years and have always sung the praises of the British police force. Their integrity, their ability to police without the use of firearms and a force with little or no corruption evident in its ranks. I was absolutely appalled at last night's documentary. I am from the north of England and was raised to live in harmony with my fellow citizens, to accept differences and to enjoy the richness that living in a multicultural society can bring.
Mark Avery, UK

I would have liked to have seen such officers go on some sort of cultural awareness programme
Sharafat Ali Bandukwala, UK
This was an interesting programme. But is it right to "expose" people because of their views in such a public way? I would have liked to have seen such officers go on some sort of cultural awareness programme for some time, and if there was no improvement in their attitudes then to have them dismissed from the police force. Please don't forget that we Asians and blacks also have extreme views that often go unchallenged because we are not subjected to such scrutiny.
Sharafat Ali Bandukwala, UK

I have to say I was a bit stunned at how stunned everyone is. As a black British female aged 40, I have experienced not great attitudes from the few police I have had encounters with. They are, after all, just people, and if they go in with ists and isms, they don't just disappear.
Marilyn Gentle, UK

Those coppers' views merely reflected the views held by the majority of the population. None of us chose to live in a 'multi-cultural society' - was there ever a referendum? So why should we have to pretend we like it? I feel that we should all be free to express our own views, no matter how unpalatable they may be, and no matter what our position in society is.
Billy Campbell, England

As a serving police officer I was horrified at the behaviour and attitudes of the racist recruits in the programme. The BBC has done the police and public a great service in exposing this. I am however concerned that the public have been left with the impression that a high proportion of police officers hold the same sick views. I have 10 years service both in London and my present force and I have NEVER known of racist behaviour such as portrayed in the documentary.
Keith Clothier, England

Britain needs to take a good look at itself and work to eradicate racism across the nation, not merely in the police force
Seldo, UK
This is the nation holding its police to a higher standard than they hold themselves. Britain likes to think of itself as egalitarian these days, but in reality it is still a deeply racist society, even if the expression of that racism is more subdued and subtle than in the past. Britain needs to take a good look at itself and work to eradicate racism across the nation, not merely in the police force.
Seldo, UK (formerly Trinidad)

The danger of the current approach to dealing with racism and in particular, the BBC's underhand approach with this program, is driving racism further underground. We should not all be patting ourselves on the back at applying more pressure to our overstretched Police Service but looking at the wider issues. Why do so many people express these views? I suspect a greater understanding of this subject would help us find better methods of dealing with such issues.
Jack, UK

The film highlighted what minorities in this country have known for years - that in matters of discretion, some police officers use their racist beliefs to make life awkward for Asians and blacks. I think measures have to be introduced now to change attitudes.
Asif, UK

The comments expressed by some trainee officers were very frightening. These are supposed to be the people who uphold the law and protect other people from racist comments and actions. It makes you wonder how many other police officers feel like this and there must be a 'root and branch' clear out or re-assigning of any such officers. If they are allowed to remain in the Police Service, they must not be allowed to come into contact with members of the public until such retraining has taken place. They should be confined to desk/office jobs, with no access to members of the public.
Kathryn Frankland, England

There will always be racist police officers, as there will always be racists in all professions and workplaces.
I felt sick to hear some of the terrible things said by evidently racist people. However, should we not also feel heartened that after six months of secret filming, during which the reporter must have come into contact with many, many Police officers, only those few vile racists were rooted out. More work needed clearly, but safe in the knowledge that the ship is heading in the right direction.
Steve Pearson, Manchester, UK

Interesting to see the Home Secretary's views on undercover techniques, given that the police force uses similar techniques itself. What I would like to know more about is how people are tested for racist views during their training. I'm sure we all know from personal experience how some racists hide their more extreme views when they think they won't be able to get away with them. It isn't difficult to say all the right things in a test which, by nature, is going to be subjective.
David Hazel, UK

I was sickened to the stomach after watching this documentary and I am petrified of approaching the Police! This sort of hatred is rife in today's day and age. Well done to the BBC for using investigative journalism to unearth this hatred. Let's hope that something is done to root out hatred once and for all.
Hardeep Mann, United Kingdom

I still do believe that most Police Officers are exemplary and treat all members of the public fairly. I hope that going forward the Police do clean up their act and turn most into all. I for one will have to re-confirm that any dealings I have with the Police are fair until this is done.
AJ, UK

I can imagine eradicating institutional racism from the various police forces is a very difficult task, not helped by giving the public the impression that every police officer is a card carrying racist
Giles Clinker, U
It's hard to see what good this programme can do other than heap kudos on the BBC. A very naive person would assume that there is no racism within the police force, a fact that most of the public and senior officers within each of the forces know. I can imagine eradicating institutional racism from the various police forces is a very difficult task, not helped by giving the public the impression that every police officer is a card carrying racist.
Giles Clinker, UK

Whilst I deplore the actions of the racist Police Officers shown in the documentary, I also wonder if the BBC considers itself to be free of racist employees. I know of no other employer than the Police that takes positive steps to weed out racists during pre or post interview stages. I would also like to say that I served with Thames Valley Police for several years in the 80's and my first taste of racism came on my very first day "on the beat" when I walked along a road, smiled at a man of West Indian appearance and he spat on me. Let's not forget, racism also rears its ugly head in ethnic groups other than "whites". The Police have an extremely challenging job to do and whilst I applaud the resignation of one PC and the suspension of others, please lets not tar all officers with the same brush, the huge majority of Police men and women are dedicated, professional, caring, decent human beings trying to do a crummy job for little reward or support.
Catherine Pawsey, England

John from Leicester says many of the comments heard in the programme can be heard in any pub at the weekend. The point is that these were policemen, whose job will be to uphold the law, not least the law racism. What a pity it took the BBC to uncover this using perfectly acceptable methods. However, I do think the point made occasionally during the programme that there were many officers on the training course who were not racist could have been re-enforced.
Mike Cresswell, UK

These views are bred in society, not in the police force
Matt, Amsterdam
I think the police represent with alarming accuracy the general views held in society. Much of society is clued up, but there's still an alarming number who will cross the street to steer clear of a black guy. Saddest of all there is a minority who would have agreed with PC Pulling last night. These views are bred in society, not in the police force. To pretend it's a problem that just affects the police is ignorant.
Matt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (ex. UK)

This should have been carried out by the police themselves.
Tim Taylor, UK

Krishna Acharya, UK

I am surprised by the way that the BBC treated this matter. I would have thought that common sense on their part would have been to discuss all of their findings with the Police before airing the programme. Such despicable behaviour should be highlighted, but perhaps showing it in prime time TV was not the most sensible way of 'exposing' the officers involved.
Mrs Attenborough, England

I don't think I was shocked but I was totally disgusted by the sheer bullish, arrogant and yobbish manner of these policemen, if you can call them that. My father served in the old Cumberland and Westmorland force for 25 years and I think even he, would have been disgusted by the lack of manners and integrity of these so-called policemen.
Jen Walker, UK

As an Indian South African married to a white British citizen living in Britain I found the programme really disturbing. I however commend the BBC on its work in exposing this sorry state of affairs in the police force. I am not really reassured that this sort of behaviour comes from the minority of the police force. How would I know this and is my son going to get stopped by the police while driving down the street because of the colour of his skin.
Delise Tattum, United Kingdom

Independent bodies need to be established and strengthened in order to root out racist and other hateful police officers in all ranks of the force
Christopher Beddow, England
Black and Asian friends and colleagues have complained to me for years about their treatment at the hands of the police in Oldham. There is a culture of racism in GMP and other forces which is too far ingrained and entrenched to be banished by the actions of a few undercover whistleblowers. Independent bodies need to be established and strengthened in order to root out racist and other hateful police officers in all ranks of the force if we are to ever get a representative 21st century police service.
Christopher Beddow, England

David Blunkett's remarks are another example of his insensitive and ill comment on a racial issue. He has already made remarks which could be construed as insightful against asylum seekers, which have coincided with attacks against that group.
Sajjad Ali, Oxford

I haven't seen the film, but I can say that this doesn't come as a surprise to me. In my opinion the words "Paki" and "nigger" are used so often by the public and by quite a large percentage of them too, that the police are just a mirror of what's going on in our bars, clubs and workplaces. The amount of racism one can find there is outrageous.
Ian, Finland

If the BBC reporter Mark Daly is charged as a result of last night's BBC Police documentary then "something is rotten in the state of Denmark". Nay decidedly wrong with the British legal process.
It's obvious that vigorous monitoring of the police recruitment process is required to eliminate the ingress of these bigoted and xenophobic individuals.
I am white, female, and aged 39 and I was appalled and distressed watching the programme. I think Mark Daly was extremely brave in what he did, and his objectives totally laudable.
Siobhan Dagge-Benham, Spain

As a serving Police Officer I was disgusted by the behaviour and attitude of those highlighted in the programme. There is no place for them in the Police Service. Impartiality and fairness are at the very core of modern Policing.
Steve Williams, UK

The film makers knew what they wanted and they got it
James, England
They were new recruits. People have their own opinions, which they are entitled to in a free country. The fact that as a policeman you have to put them aside is one of the reasons they need to be trained. If they had shown policemen leaving the training course being racist, sexist or whatever, there would be reason to doubt the course's effectiveness. As it was we saw people goaded into things by an undercover reporter and judged before their training was complete. The film makers knew what they wanted and they got it. A film showing how the officers were trained by the course to leave their preconceptions at home wouldn't have gathered such good ratings.
James, England

I was extremely shocked by the film and also saddened for the majority of police officers who strive to treat everyone they deal with fairly. Unfortunately the small minority of racist idiots within the force have let their colleagues and the general public down. There must be more stringent testing of new recruits to ensure that no-one with such extreme views is allowed to be a police officer. It is easy to understand why there is such bad feeling between ethnic minority communities and the police when racists in uniforms are allowed to behave in such a manner as was demonstrated in 'The Secret Policeman'.
Zoe, UK

I watched the programme last night and was shocked at "some" of the comments. The police are right to suspend the officers involved, but I think the methods used to gather the evidence needs to be seriously looked at. The BBC reporter was to a certain extent encouraging this behaviour. If that is the only way to gather evidence then I think he would find that type of conversations in most pubs across the UK on a Friday night. It was not constructive journalism.
John, Leicester

If you're not white then these views are not a huge surprise. We are always aware that Asians are targets for racist police. The big problem is that the police force has a code of silence stronger than the mafia. Racist or criminal police officers will never be exposed by colleagues even if they are disgusted by such views. Still, congratulations for bringing this to the public's attention in such a direct way. It might even make a jury member think twice when listening to police evidence against a black or Asian defendant.
Paul, UK




SEE ALSO:
Officers suspended over race claims
20 Oct 03  |  Manchester
Asian officers criticise force
10 Jul 03  |  Manchester
My life as a secret policeman
21 Oct 03  |  Magazine


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