Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Sunday, June 6, 1999 Published at 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK


UK

'Daft' ethnic phrase too PC for PCs

Metropolitan police officers are being asked to use the new phrase

Metropolitan police officers are being asked to refer to black and Asian communities as "visibly minority ethnic groups" as part of a strategy to rid the force of racism.


Metropolitan Police federation chairman Glen Smyth: Language is part of tackling racism
But the move has been condemned by civil rights groups and plain English campaigners as confusing, cynical and daft.

The expression is being suggested to officers in a campaign to make the force more sensitive to race issues in the wake of criticism in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

Officers will be asked to use the phrase at a series of race relation seminars in Lambeth.

Eventually, all 28,000 Metropolitan officers will attend the seminars.

Language 'not the issue'

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "When referring to groups of black, Caribbean and Asian people, or a mixture of people from both groups, an individual may feel it is more appropriate to employ the term "visibly minority ethnic groups".

The Metropolitan force was branded "institutionally racist" by the inquiry into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, and has been embarking on a campaign to rebuild its relationship with London's ethnic minorities.

London-based civil rights group Movement for Justice criticised the force's latest move in that campaign.

Chairman Alex Owolade said: "The real issue for us is not the names or the terminology, it's the way the police handle areas such as stop and search.

"The Police Federation recently said stop and search figures have gone down because of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and implied a relationship between the rise in street crime and black people.

Non-offensive

"For them to come up now with a term like this is just cynicism."

A spokesman for the Commission for Racial Equality said: "We have not insisted that anybody should change their language - the language is up to them and different organisations will say these things in different ways.

"The only thing is that they should not be offensive to people."

The Plain English Campaign described the new term as "daft", saying it made no sense linguistically.

The Metropolitan Police is believed to have decided on the term because "visibly" differentiates black and Asian minorities from, for instance, the Irish minority.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

03 Jun 99 | UK
Crime rise 'linked' to Lawrence inquiry

25 May 99 | UK
Anti-racist squad's first raids

24 Mar 99 | UK
Straw promises Lawrence reform

18 Mar 99 | UK
Race crime officer for Lawrence beat

10 Feb 99 | UK
Straw orders more black police

18 Dec 98 | UK
Police 'still failing on race relations'





Internet Links


Metropolitan Police

Commission for Racial Equality

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

Plain English Campaign


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online