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Saturday, November 7, 1998 Published at 20:58 GMT


UK

Police chief calls on black Britons to join up

Sir Paul: It was "important" to apologise publicly at Lawrence inquiry

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon has urged young black people in Britain who are concerned about the behaviour of the Met to join his force, rather than "snipe from the sidelines".


Sir Paul Condon: "I demand more ethnic minorities come into the police force."
He has also pledged that racist behaviour among off-duty officers will become a disciplinary offence from next April.

In an interview for BBC TWO's Black Britain programme, to be broadcast on Monday night, Sir Paul said: "I demand that more people from an ethnic minority background in London come into the police force and make a difference. But we can't press gang people into coming into policing.

"I hope people will be motivated to say, 'I'm worried about that outfit (the Met). I'm going to get in on the inside and change it, I'm not just going to snipe from the sidelines.'"


[ image: Stephen Lawrence's parents called for Sir Paul to resign]
Stephen Lawrence's parents called for Sir Paul to resign
The police commissioner came under fire last month after he told the inquiry into the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence that he did not believe there was "institutional racism" in his force.

But Sir Paul vowed in his interview to make a further crackdown on police racism, saying off-duty officers using racist language would be disciplined.

"By April of next year it will be easier to deal with malpractice by police officers because I find it totally unacceptable for that sort of language to be used.


Asked about the use of racist language by police officers, Sir Paul suggests making it an offence
"I persuaded the Home Affairs Select Committee that we should have a change to the discipline procedures, and the Home Secretary agreed with that."

Walking the gauntlet

The police commissioner touched on other issues, including his handling of the death of Joy Gardner and his appearance at the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, where he apologised to the murdered teenager's parents for failures by his officers.

Sir Paul said it was important for black Londoners to see him "walking the gauntlet" at the Lawrence inquiry.

He said: "I felt it was important that I should be publicly apologising to Mr and Mrs Lawrence in addition to my private apologies, that I should be seen to be experiencing the anger and frustration of black Londoners."


[ image: Joy Gardner: Died after being restrained by police]
Joy Gardner: Died after being restrained by police
At the Lawrence inquiry, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable David Wilmot claimed there was "institutionalised" racism within his force.

Mr Wilmot's admission constrasted sharply with Sir Paul's denial that racism was present throughout his force.

On this issue, Sir Paul told Black Britain it was not the term itself which upset him.

"The only point a label like 'institutional racism' gets in the way is what do people mean by it?"

The problem, Sir Paul said, was that the term means different things to different people.

"I think one of the exciting things for the inquiry is they can set the new definitions around racism for public bodies and for the police service so that we know, if you like, the test. We know what we must be responding to and we can take action."

'Horrified' at Gardner case

Joy Gardner, an illegal immigrant, died in July 1993 after being restrained by police.

Police officers entered her home in Crouch End, north London and attempted to arrest her,

They used restraining equipment and wrapped 13ft of sticking tape round her head to stop her biting them. The officers involved insist that she violently resisted arrest.

Three Scotland Yard officers were subsequently found not guilty of the killing.

Sir Paul said the case had "horrified" him, although he said he was not attributing individual blame.

"Just the notion of a woman ... finishing up being bound and led away in such distressing circumstances and then dying through that horrified me."

As commissioner, Sir Paul said, he had a "determination" to make sure such an incident never happened again.





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