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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 09:19 GMT
Met racism inquiry gets under way
Police recruits
There have been concerns about racism in the Met
An official inquiry into racism within the Metropolitan Police Force headed by former union boss Sir Bill Morris is getting under way.

The probe, ordered by the Metropolitan Police Authority, will look at the way internal complaints about ethnic minority officers are investigated.

It will also look at how black officers' grievances are treated.

Ex-Transport and General Workers Union head Sir Bill said his inquiry was vital to restoring public confidence.

'Beacon'

The Met was the "shop window of law enforcement agencies in the UK and it should be a beacon of good practice," Sir Bill told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It is about restoring the relationship between the Metropolitan Police and the community they serve," he added.

Many steps had been taken by the force since the Macpherson Inquiry into the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence which branded the force "institutionally racist", he said.

But he added that while he was confident of getting co-operation from the force, he would not hesitate to take any obstruction to Home Secretary David Blunkett.

Inquiry welcomed

Leroy Logan, chairman of the Black Police Association's branch in the Metropolitan force, said his organisation was preparing a submission to the Morris Inquiry.

This inquiry is vital to restoring public confidence in the Met
Sir Bill Morris

Mr Logan said: "We are encouraged by the police authority's approach in drawing up the inquiry team headed by Sir Bill Morris.

"We welcome the inquiry in our search for truth, relying heavily on its total independence - not only for my members, but also the Police Service as a whole.

"We see it as a significant contribution towards modernisation of the Met."

Dishonesty allegations

There have been a number of high profile cases involving ethnic minority officers, which prompted questions about the Met's internal investigation procedures.

Sir Bill Morris
Sir Bill Morris's inquiry keeps the ex-union chief in the public eye

In September, Iranian-born Superintendent Ali Dizaei was cleared of allegations of dishonesty at the Old Bailey.

Afterwards, he claimed a handful of racist senior officers had set out to destroy his life and bully him "out of a job I love".

He also said a hardcore of "very senior" officers were spreading the "cancer of racism" through the force.

Hate mail

Other high profile cases have included that of Sikh officer Sergeant Gurpal Virdi who was sacked after being falsely accused of sending hate mail.

He won his job back, and substantial damages, after taking his case to an employment tribunal in 2000.

The Black Police Association believes that there have been a disproportionate number of other inquiries into officers from ethnic minorities.

The inquiry will focus on this and the and the "excessive" resources used to investigate them.

Those officers are also more likely to be pursued over trivial matters, the Association says.

But the agreement under which Superintendent Dizaei returned to work before the disciplinary process was complete has caused a backlash from some white officers.

They suspect their bosses have caved in to political pressures, BBC crime correspondent Neil Bennett reports.




SEE ALSO:
New racism strategy for Met
14 Nov 03  |  London
Met Police still 'racist'
22 Apr 03  |  London
Profile: Sir John Stevens
06 Jan 04  |  UK


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