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Saturday, June 20, 1998 Published at 05:49 GMT 06:49 UK


Police 'must admit racism'

Neville Lawrence, seen with wife Doreen, will address conference

The police are being urged to be more open about the extent of racism in their ranks, and to root out offenders.

The National Assembly Against Racism, which is holding a conference on ending harassment in the community and the workplace, believes the inquiry into the way police handled the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence throws up vital lessons for the way crimes against black people are treated.

BBC's John Andrew on the background to the conference
Stephen's father Neville has addressed the conference in London along with Labour MP Ken Livingstone and "the most harassed man in Britain", Mal Hussain.

Mr Hussain's grocery shop on a Lancaster housing estate has been attacked by racists more than 1,500 times.

[ image: Ken Livingstone will also speak]
Ken Livingstone will also speak
The conference, which has also been organised with the Trades Union Congress, will discuss what needs to be done to improve the police response to racist crime.

Delegates are also expected to hear a call for the police force to admit racism is deep rooted within its ranks and that racism becomes a sackable offence.

More controversially, the conference will discuss whether juries trying black defendants should have a black majority.

The second part of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, expected to get under way later this summer, will consider "national issues relating to the investigation and prosecution of racially motivated crime", and will travel round the country to hear from victims of racists.

[ image: The inquiry into Stephen's death continues later this year]
The inquiry into Stephen's death continues later this year
Lee Jasper, secretary of the National Assembly Against Racism, condemned the police investigation of Stephen Lawrence's murder.

He added: "We hope that we will not see a situation where an inadequate, flawed investigation into the murder of a black person is considered less serious than a failure on another type of crime."

The five "prime suspects" in Stephen's murder are due to give evidence to the inquiry at the end of the month.

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