Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 19:00 UK

Inquiries into Met racism worries

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has taken over as chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority

London's mayor, Boris Johnson, has launched an investigation into alleged racism in the city's police force.

It comes as the Metropolitan Black Police Association (MBPA) said it would discourage prospective black and Asian recruits from applying to the force.

The MBPA said it would "be failing in its duty" not to tell people of the "hostile and racist situation there".

The home secretary has also ordered an assessment of the Met's ethnic minority recruitment practices within two weeks.

Jacqui Smith said she was "disappointed" with the MBPA's stance.

And the organisation's decision was also criticised by the National Association of Muslim Police, which said it had "grave concerns".

'Hostile atmosphere'

The MBPA said it would "actively discourage" potential applicants from applying to join the Metropolitan Police and boycott any recruitment drives targeting minorities.

It claimed the working environment for existing black staff within the force was "a hostile atmosphere where racism is allowed to spread".

Cindy Butts of the Metropolitan Police Authority says the Met is improving

But Martin Tiplady, the force's head of human resources, said the Met was "a great organisation and we've moved a long way from a number of years ago".

He told BBC London: "I find it a matter of real regret that the MBPA have announced this today. I don't think it's helpful."

Mrs Smith said she hoped the MPBA's stance would not "undo the significant progress made to date" in tackling the issue of racism within the police.

And Supt Dal Babu of the National Association of Muslim Police Officers said his organisation was deeply opposed to the recruitment boycott.

"We don't think that's the way forward," he told BBC London.

He said the MBPA had done "some really sterling and excellent work" but it was better for the two organisations to "see how we can work with the Metropolitan Police Service together and try and increase the number of minorities within the organisation".

The MBPA said the current suspensions of Commander Ali Dizaei and Britain's most senior Muslim officer, Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, were proof that ethnic minority officers were treated less favourably than white staff.

The fact that we have trebled the number of black and minority ethnic sergeants and above is good news
Cindy Butts, MPA member

Mr Dizaei was suspended after being accused of misconduct, while Mr Ghaffur was "temporarily relieved of his responsibilities" by then Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair.

This was because of the way he had "chosen to conduct himself" in the media, following his 1.2m racial discrimination claim filed against the Met, Sir Ian said.

Sir Ian announced his resignation as commissioner last week.

And Mr Johnson, attending his first meeting as chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), told members Sir Ian had to go because his leadership was under question.

"Everyone in London wants the police to get on with their jobs with complete focus and undistracted - with an undistracted leadership," the mayor said.

"That is why I came, over a long period and after much consultation with members of this authority and others, to the reluctant conclusion that it was time for someone else to make a new start and offer a new lead at the top of the Met."

'Phenomenal achievement'

The inquiry announced by Mr Johnson into alleged racism will be led by MPA member Cindy Butts.

She told the BBC that the force had done much to improve itself since it was labelled "institutionally racist" by the MacPherson inquiry 10 years ago.

"At least 20% of all new recruits into Hendon police training college are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds," she said.

"Now that is a phenomenal achievement given where we were 10 years ago... but it is not good enough, and that's why we are holding this inquiry."

The inquiry was welcomed by Alfred John of the MBPA, who said Mr Johnson should be "applauded" for acting so quickly on the matter.

Meanwhile Kent Chief Constable Mike Fuller, Britain's most senior black police officer, has claimed most ethnic minority police have to work harder than their white colleagues to succeed.

In an interview for the BBC's Panorama, Chief Constable Fuller said he had fallen prey to racism, with people having tried to block past promotions.

Senior Met officer investigated
12 Sep 08 |  London

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