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Wednesday, 24 March, 1999, 10:51 GMT
Met's 'incompetence' in Lawrence investigation
Police actions are under the microscope
The Macpherson Report of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry contains a number of criticisms of the Metropolitan Police.

Specific officers are named but the entire force is criticised.

The points it makes about London's police include the following comments:

  • "The investigation was marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers."

  • No officers administered first aid to Stephen at the scene of the crime other than checking his pulse and breathing.

  • Inquiry chairman Sir William Macpherson and his team were "astonished by the lack of direction and organisation during the vital hours after the murder".

  • Liaison with the Lawrences failed from the night of the murder, when they were treated with "insensitivity and lack of sympathy".

  • Calling it "one of the saddest and most deplorable aspects of the case", Sir William accuses the police of patronising the Lawrences and keeping them in the dark about the investigation.

  • Detective Superintendent Ian Crampton, who headed the murder hunt for the first three days, made a "vital and fundamental" mistake by not moving to arrests the suspects.

  • A decision to arrest early would have been justified, given the large number of informants naming the alleged killers. Despite police claims to the contrary "there was no wall of silence".

  • Detective Superintendent Brian Weeden, who then took over the case from Mr Crampton, "perpetuated the wrong decisions" made in the early days not to arrest. He was also "confused as to his powers of arrest".

  • Mr Weeden's deputy, Detective Inspector Ben Bullock, was "passive and not up to his job".

  • Chief Superintendent William Ilsley, who supervised the case, "tended to disconnect from responsibility for the investigation".

  • The surveillance of the five suspects was "ill-planned, badly carried out and inadequately documented". Officers were "simply going through the motions".

  • The vital HOLMES police computer system was not used properly because of a lack of trained officers.

  • Officers failed to eliminate associates of the five suspects from the case.

  • The identity parades broke Code of Practice rules. "Successful identification might well have been compromised by these breaches."

  • The failure to hunt a sixth fair-haired attacker, who has still not been traced, was due to a lack of logic and thoroughness.

  • Searches of the suspects' houses were inadequate. Witnesses said knives were hidden under floorboards. But Sir William notes: "There is no evidence that a single floorboard was removed during any of the searches."

  • "There is no remedy for the grief which the unsuccessful investigation piled upon the grief caused by the murder itself."

  • The unexplained meetings of Detective Sergeant David Coles and Clifford Norris, father of suspect David Norris, raised "much suspicion" and it is inexplicable that until the summer of 1994 no attempt was made to prevent the "evil influence" of Norris by arresting him.

  • Sir William also notes the view of Mr and Mrs Lawrence that "corruption and collusion" might explain the police failures. However, he warns that such an allegation is unproven.

  • An internal police review of the failing murder investigation, which should have produced new leads by pinpointing police failings, was "factually incorrect and inadequate" and "flawed and indefensible".

  • The review author, Detective Chief Superintendent Roderick Barker, was also accused of being "inaccurate, insensitive and thoughtless" in his comments about the Lawrences.

  • Inspector Steven Groves, one of the first officers at the murder scene, was guilty of "insensitive and racist stereotypical behaviour".

  • The officers' prejudice led them to leave Duwayne Brooks, Stephen's friend and the key witness to the crime, "side-lined and ignored". "He was never properly treated as a victim."

  • Five further officers, Detective Sergeants John Bevan and John Davidson and three named detective constables, refused to accept the crime was racist. "This must have skewed their approach to their work."

  • Detective Sergeant Peter Flook, who assisted Mr Weeden, did not even know his own job description. He is accused of making "untrue statements" about the Lawrences and "hostility".

  • Inappropriate and offensive language such as the terms "negro" and "coloured" were used by some officers. "Racism awareness training was almost non-existent at every level."
Christine Stewart reports
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