Page last updated at 18:24 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 19:24 UK

Profile: Tarique Ghaffur

Tarique Ghaffur
Mr Ghaffur moved to the Met in September 1999

Britain's most senior Asian police officer is planning legal action against the Metropolitan Police, accusing it of racial discrimination.

He is said to have complained of being humiliated, undermined and subjugated by his force.

Discrimination as a member of a minority community is something Mr Ghaffur, himself a Muslim, experienced first-hand at an early age.

Born in Uganda in east Africa, his family were forced to flee their native land when dictator Idi Amin expelled most of the country's minority Asian population in 1972.

Just two years later, aged 16, he began his police career as a Pc with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in Salford.

For someone who was destined to become the UK's highest-ranking Asian officer and receive a CBE for services to policing in 2004, his start with the GMP was inauspicious.

At the time Mr Ghaffur was one of only two officers from an ethnic minority in a force of more than 6,000.

He has recalled that on his first day the desk sergeant refused to believe he was a police officer and initially would not let him enter the station.

Gun crime

Once through the door, Mr Ghaffur rose consistently through the GMP ranks to become a superintendent in 1989, when he transferred to the Leicestershire Constabulary.

In 1996 Mr Ghaffur became Assistant Chief Constable with the Lancashire force and was promoted to Deputy Chief Constable in February 1999.

During his time there he headed reviews into child protection issues and led a major corruption inquiry.

But it is in the arena of race relations that Tarique Ghaffur has made his mark with the Metropolitan Police force, to which he transferred in September 1999.

In 2002 Mr Ghaffur, by then Assistant Commissioner, assumed responsibility for the Met's newly-created Specialist Crime Directorate which included Operation Trident, the dedicated unit tackling gun crime in black communities.

Mr Ghaffur has shown himself unafraid to tackle sensitive race issues head-on, even when that has put him in a difficult position as an Asian and a Muslim.

In 2004 he instigated the setting up of a unit dedicated to tackling crime in the south Asian communities based on what he had learnt from his work with Operation Trident.

At the time he told the BBC that, much as he did not like to segregate crime by race, the reality was that there was organised crime within distinct communities.

He was sharply criticised by some race groups, who said his comments could perpetuate racist stereotypes.

Force sued

Tarique Ghaffur has also proved himself willing to tackle race issues within the Met.

As his speech to the Black Police Officers Association in Manchester shows, he is not afraid to speak out against what he sees as poor policing of minorities.

Tarique Ghaffur
Many believe Mr Ghaffur could be the first Asian to head a force

And he has been in the forefront of those pushing for fairer treatment of minority officers.

In 2002 he helped smooth the return of Gurpal Virdi, a Sikh officer who successfully sued the Met force for racial discrimination - one of a number of officers to take the Met to tribunal on race grounds in recent years.

In 2004 he produced a report for the Morris Inquiry into the treatment of minority officers in the Met, which found black and Asian officers were twice as likely to be investigated or receive formal written warnings as other officers.

The racial make-up of the police force has changed greatly since 1974 when Tarique Ghaffur joined.

Since Lord Macpherson's critical report with its allegations of "institutionalised racism" against the Met force in 1999, all police services have been required to make greater efforts to recruit ethnic minorities.

In 2003 the UK's first black chief constable was appointed when Mike Fuller took over the Kent force.

Many believe Tarique Ghaffur could become the first Asian to head a force. He has already been short-listed for the top job in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.


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