Police forces in England and Wales are failing to eradicate racial prejudice in their ranks, according to a government inspector's report.
It comes less than a week after an inquiry highlighted "institutional racism" in London's Metropolitan Police following the bungled investigation into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.
The Metropolitan Police are one of the forces singled out for praise in the report.
"There are pockets of good practice, but generally there is room for substantial improvement," said Dan Crompton, the report's author, who investigated how forces have implemented 20 recommendations made by the inspectorate 16 months ago.
Home Secretary Jack Straw said the report underlined the need to tackle racism as laid out by Sir William Macpherson in his report on the Lawrence murder investigation.
|Jack Straw: Police have advanced in very significant ways|
The Macpherson report denounced the Metropolitan Police as fundamentally racist for its handling of the investigation into the death of 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence, stabbed to death by white youths in 1993. No-one has been convicted of the crime.
After the Macpherson report, the government promised to broaden anti-discrimination laws and make immediate changes in policing methods.
Mr Straw who addressed chief police officers on Monday, told the BBC: "I am going to drive home the message that things have got to change.
"The police have advanced in very significant ways in recent years - crime fell 8% last year - but some of them have not had their eye on race relations.
"This has got to become a core part of policing."
The Winning The Race study of 15 forces looked at recruitment from ethnic groups, police liaison with black and Asian communities, race awareness training, efforts to tackle race crime and racist behaviour among officers.
Among the report's findings are:
- Only a quarter of forces have conducted a community and race relations audit
- Only seven of the 43 police forces in England and Wales
recognise black and ethnic police associations
- Less than half of forces test officers' attitudes towards policing a diverse community
- A minority of officers and some civilian support staff still
exhibit inappropriate racist language and behaviour with and
- There are some good examples of positive programmes to promote the recruitment of ethnic minority officers, but fall-out rates of ethnic minority officers is a cause for concern
- There are pockets of good community and race relations activity in a number of forces but the good practice is not spread throughout the force
- More than a quarter of forces do not monitor the retention of staff from different ethnic minority backgrounds
- There has been general good progress in the last 12 months in the Metropolitan, South Wales, West Yorkshire, Bedfordshire and Leicestershire police forces.
- Those forces criticised for lack of progress are West Midlands, Cumbria, Merseyside, North Yorkshire and North Wales.
John Newing, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, admitted: "There is a great deal to be done.
"However, there is a danger in overplaying this suggestion that leadership on this issue is not there.
"A great deal has been done and the report recognises that."
Chief Superintendent David Mellor of Manchester police - praised and criticised in the report - said: "This report provides an excellent opprotunity to take police and race relations forward."
Winning The Race is likely to add further impetus to calls for root-and-branch reforms of police procedures in dealing with a variety of race issues following the Lawrence inquiry.
Mr Straw has already announced that officers will soon be liable to criminal prosecution for discrimination when police forces are brought under the Race Relations Act.
The Macpherson report also recommended that progress should be marked against indicators such as the number of racist complaints against the police, recruitment of black and Asian officers and support in ethnic communities.
|The Macpherson report: Severe criticism|
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon has revealed plans to introduce tests for racism as well as launching a major study of what the public look for from the police.