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Wednesday, February 24, 1999 Published at 18:09 GMT


UK

Black groups demand Condon's dismissal

The home secretary wants Sir Paul Condon to stay on

Black professional groups have criticised Jack Straw's support of Metropolitan Police chief Sir Paul Condon.

The Society of Black Lawyers and the Association of Black Probation Officers say the commissioner should lose his job following the publication of the Stephen Lawrence report.

In a joint statement, a spokesman said: "We regard Sir Paul Condon's position as untenable. This is inevitable given the scale of the criticism of the Metropolitan Police.

"He no longer carries the trust and confidence of the black community necessary to undertake the task in hand."

The spokesman welcomed the Lawrence report's findings but disputed the notion that the "pernicious" racism referred to in it could be wholly "unwitting".

"There is overwhelming evidence that there are many serving police officers up and down the country that deliberately and knowingly target and stereotype members of the African, Caribbean and Asian community," he said.


[ image:  ]
"The Macpherson definition of institutionalised racism therefore falls short of the reality experienced by the black community."

The society's Eral Robinson also expressed disappointment at the home secretary's refusal to review the police's stop and search powers.

He said that stop and search had "particularly adversely affected the black community".

Speaking in Birmingham, he said he did not know how the present system could be made to work more fairly.

He cited the case of Carl Joseph, a Birmingham man who took action against the police after he had been stopped and searched 34 times.

He said: "I am disappointed that there's to be no amendment to the stop and search powers the police have.

"It is said that these powers will remain but will be used with more fairness, but I am not sure how that is going to be achieved."

However, he told the BBC that he was "particularly excited" about rights which are to be afforded to families involved in inquests.


[ image: Eral Robinson:
Eral Robinson: "Particularly adversely affected the black community"
He said the right to see documentation before hearings would be particularly important in the case of deaths in police custody.

The report's call for changes to the rules against double jeopardy - trying a suspect on the same charges twice - was welcomed.

The Immigration and Asylum Act and War Crimes Act showed it was not a "sacrosanct legal principle" and second trials should go ahead if an individual's human rights had been violated, the spokesman said.

The Bar Council gave a cautious reaction to calls for a change to the "double jeopardy" rule.

A spokesman warned: "We must not face a situation where the state can endlessly prosecute unpopular defendants until they get the 'right result'.

"Of course, we would welcome any change to the law which would allow for genuinely new evidence to be reconsidered by a court in its fullest possible context."

Call for curriculum change

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament, applauded the Lawrence inquiry's recommendations and praised the report's inclusion of the term "institutionalised racism".

He also called for the national curriculum to be changed to emphasise cultural diversity. "The current curriculum is the root of racism and intolerance in our society," said Dr Siddiqui.

The British Sikh Federation said it hoped Sir Paul would stay in his job and oversee the promised reforms.

"Other police services have admitted institutionalised racial discrimination and it would be pointless and damaging to expect so many chief constables to resign," the federation said in a statement.

"The police officers on duty or at fault should resign or be dismissed instead."



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