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Last Updated: Friday, 30 December 2005, 11:55 GMT
Crime Museum's nickname 'racist'
Image of the Jack The Ripper case at the Crime Museum
The Crime Museum is at Scotland Yard and is not open to the public
An Asian officer has complained that using the name "Black Museum" for the Metropolitan Police's famous archive of crime artefacts is racist.

Pc Zahid Malik, from Nottinghamshire Police, said the use of the word black in an article in the police magazine The Sharp End was questionable.

The editor of the publication responded to Pc Malik's letter saying: "There was no intention to offend."

The Crime Museum features gory exhibits from famous cases dating back to 1875.

In his letter, the constable said: "In a piece on the Met's Crime Museum you use the term `Black Museum' for this `notorious police museum' and `the man in black' to accompany a picture of the curator.

We live in times where language/images and motives can easily be misinterpreted and misunderstood.
PC Zahid Malik

"I question the negative use of the word `black' in these contexts."

He added: "I feel we all have an important responsibility to ensure that the language and terminology we use is in a sensitive and appropriate manner.

"We live in times where language/images and motives can easily be misinterpreted and misunderstood."

The Crime Museum, stored at Scotland Yard, has been nicknamed the Black Museum and contains death masks, casts of necks disfigured by rope burns and a collection of nooses hanging from a gallows.

It also has exhibits featuring some of London's most notorious crimes, such as the Jack the Ripper murders.

It is not open to the public, with admission only by invitation to police officers, lawyers and other crime experts.

The phrase "Black Museum" has traditionally referred to its funereal and evil nature, and has nothing to do with the ethnic origin of its exhibits.

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