Page last updated at 03:45 GMT, Saturday, 21 February 2009

Police 'still fail black Britons'

Doreen Lawrence
Mrs Lawrence works at an educational charity set up in her son's name

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence says police are still failing black Britons, 10 years after a key report branded the Met police "racist".

Doreen Lawrence said some mothers of black murder victims had told her they felt they were not being treated as well as those of white victims.

She told the Guardian many in authority had become "complacent" and little had changed since her son's death in 1993.

Ministers say police are working to gain the trust of all communities.

Mrs Lawrence's comments come days before the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Macpherson Report, which blamed "a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership" for the mistakes in the investigation of her son's murder.

Stephen, 18, was stabbed to death in Eltham, south-east London, in a racist attack by a gang of white youths.

No-one has ever been convicted of the murder.

Ten years on I think a lot of people have become complacent. They feel 'We've done that, got the T-shirt, let's move on'. The reality is we haven't
Doreen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence's mother

Mrs Lawrence told the Guardian that although there had been some positive changes in Britain since then, many black people still felt let down by police.

"Some mothers say they don't feel as if they've been treated in the same way [as white victims' families]," she said.

"Families are out there still feeling the way I did when Stephen was killed."

She accused the government of losing interest in racial justice and blamed the high numbers of black people being stopped and searched by police on racism.

Government figures show that in 1999, black men were six times more likely to be stopped and searched, but in 2008 they were seven times more likely to be targeted.

Diversity targets 'scrapped'

Government and other bodies now avoided using the word "race", Mrs Lawrence argued, and instead use terms such as "diversity".

"Ten years on I think a lot of people have become complacent. They feel 'We've done that, got the T-shirt, let's move on'," she said.

"The reality is we haven't."

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that diversity targets brought in for police forces after the publication of the Macpherson Report are to be scrapped.

Forces were told to meet central targets which required them to recruit ethnic minority officers in direct proportion to the make-up of their local community. They will now be able to set their own targets locally.

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a gang of white youths

Steve Otter, the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead officer on race and diversity, told the Daily Mail: "There is no doubt that the targets set in 1999 were very ambitious and the scale of the challenge they posed has acted as a catalyst for change across the police service.

"As with all targets, crude measures can drive output but come to the end of their usefulness eventually."

He said using the term "institutionally racist" to describe the police now was "both unfair and unhelpful".

"It fails to take any account of the very real progress which has been made," he added.

Policing Minister Vernon Coaker said the government was still determined to work with the police service to offer "fair and equal opportunities" to all members "regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or background".

"We have already come a long way: over the last 10 years minority ethnic officer representation in the police service has doubled," he said.

The policing Green Paper, published last year, set out the government's "equality and diversity vision", he added.

"It is to have a police service that has the trust and confidence of all communities and a service that reflects all the communities it serves."

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