Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Met officers 'face glass ceiling'

Exterior of Scotland Yard
It is a decade since a report branded the Met "institutionally racist"

A "glass ceiling" remains for minority officers in the Metropolitan Police, the chairman of the force's Muslim Police Association has claimed.

Inspector Fiaz Choudhary told an inquiry into discrimination in the service that white colleagues would often "recruit in their own image".

But "enormous progress" had been made in the 10 years since the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry, he added.

The inquiry was set up after a string of race claims against the force.

Known as the "Metropolitan Police Authority Race and Faith review", it was established by Mayor Boris Johnson and is being chaired by Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) member Cindy Butts.

It is being held 10 years on from the publication of the Macpherson Report into the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry, which branded the Met "institutionally racist".

Ex-commissioner Sir Ian Blair is likely to appear, while Tarique Ghaffur - a former senior officer who accused Sir Ian of racism - gave evidence on the first morning.

'No targets set'

Mr Choudhary told the inquiry: "We have moved on quite considerably in the last 10 years since the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

"We have moved on considerably but there are still issues there and they are not that different from those 10 years ago."

Ali Dizaei
Commander Ali Dizaei has made a racial discrimination claim
And he claimed the MPA had failed in its duty to scrutinise senior officers.

"I think that is where one of the biggest failings has been," he said . "There do not appear to be any measurements and targets set."

But Det Ch Supt Helen Ball, who heads Trident, the Met unit dealing with gun crime in London's black community, said it was incorrect for Mr Choudhary to claim that senior officers recruited in their own image.

"If you look at the progression of women in the organisation then it certainly cannot be true," she said.

"There are women coming through the ranks now, like myself, who were recruited by male colleagues.

"I think we are coming through in some numbers. I would anticipate that the progression of black and minority officers will go the same way."

'Must be upfront'

Ms Butts said the Met had made good progress but acknowledged that "substantial problems" remained.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the Met had made significant progress in recruiting black and minority ethnic (BME) police officers over the past decade, but more needed to be done.

She said one in 15 officers in the London boroughs came from BME backgrounds, compared with one in 43 at the time of the Macpherson Report.

"There are still substantial problems that remain, and we have to be very upfront about that," she added.

FROM THE TODAY PROGRAMME

"And that's what this inquiry is about - it's about examining the experiences of black and minority ethnic officers and trying to come up with practical, workable solutions that can improve the situation."

She added that positive discrimination was something which would be considered.

But she said: "I would not say we are wedded to that as a solution because we know that BME officers within the service themselves are not that supportive of positive discrimination."

Serving officers from ethnic minorities will give evidence to the inquiry both in public and in private.

Former assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who publicly accused Sir Ian of racism, spoke to the inquiry in private on Wednesday morning.

Tarique Ghaffur
Tarique Ghaffur withdrew a claim of racism against Sir Ian Blair
Mr Ghaffur later withdrew the allegation against Sir Ian and has since left the Met.

The inquiry will take evidence from the Metropolitan Black Police Association (MBPA), which continues to discourage would-be recruits who are black and Asian from joining the service.

The MBPA has been highly critical of the force, which it claims is still institutionally racist.

In December, Met Commander Ali Dizaei lodged a claim of racial discrimination with the Employment Tribunal against the force, with the support of the MBPA.

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