Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 17:49 UK

Racism 'still exists' in police

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence was killed in Eltham, south east London, in 1993

Racial discrimination still exists in the police, 10 years after a report described Britain's biggest force as institutionally racist, MPs have said.

While there has been some progress, black people are still more likely to be stopped and searched, according to the Home Affairs committee.

Chairman Keith Vaz warned of damage to community relations.

But the Association of Chief Police Officers said forces had "worked hard" to counter accusations of racism.

The committee looked at recommendations made by Sir William MacPherson following his 1999 inquiry into a Metropolitan police investigation of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

We are particularly concerned at the discrimination which apparently persists within the force
Keith Vaz MP

Sir William's conclusion that the force was "institutionally racist" led to 70 recommendations to counter discrimination within the police service.

MPs said while forces had met 67 out of the 70 anti-discrimination targets, they still failed to employ 7% of officers from ethnic minorities - roughly in proportion to the composition of the UK's population.

Mr Vaz said evidence suggested officers from these communities struggled to attain promotion and were more likely to be subject to disciplinary action.

"We are also particularly concerned at the discrimination which apparently persists within the force, in recruitment and promotion of black and minority ethnic officers," he added.

"The police service must now focus its efforts on tackling these issues within its own workforce."

Police undermined

The report concluded a disproportionate number of black and Asian people also had their profiles held on the police DNA database.

Mr Vaz said: "While there is such blatantly disproportionate representation of particularly black people in the criminal justice system... there will continue to be damage to community relations which in turn undermines police work."

Keith Bristow, of Acpo, told the BBC that attitudes within the police reflected those of wider society, where "of course there are some people that have racist views, the same as there are some people who have views about women".

"But I'd say as a service we have worked as hard if not harder than anyone else to make sure that we have the most balanced, fair and ethical workforce possible."



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SEE ALSO
Police 'not racist' over Lawrence
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Racist claims 'threaten policing'
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The legacy of Stephen Lawrence
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The Lawrence inquiry
25 Mar 99 |  Stephen Lawrence

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