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Home Secretary Jack Straw
"I set up the Lawrence inquiry"
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The Macpherson report attacked
Dr Raj Chandran from the Commission for Racial Equality and Richard Stone, a Macpherson adviser, discuss
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Friday, 15 December, 2000, 11:26 GMT
Fresh attack on Tory crime figures
Home Secretary Jack Straw
Jack Straw said Mr Hague's comments were "disgraceful"
Home Secretary Jack Straw has renewed his assault on William Hague's claims that the Macpherson report into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence has undermined police effectiveness.

Mr Straw condemned the Conservative leader's comments as a "disgraceful attack", insisting that the main effects of the report had been positive.

Mr Hague said in a speech on Thursday that arrests had fallen because officers were too scared to use stop and search powers in the wake of the report.

What we do not need is for the relations between the black community and the police to be soured by this kind of disgraceful attack.

Jack Straw
He originally said that arrests had fallen dramatically - by nearly 7,000, but Tories later admitted the figures cited by Mr Hague had been wrong.

The correct figures for arrests were 2,609 in February 1999 and 1,898 in September 2000 - a fall of 711 or 27%.

Mr Hague said the Macpherson report had described the police as "institutionally racist", with officers reluctant to stop black suspects for fear of being branded as racists.

But speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday, Mr Straw said: "What we do not need is for the relations between the black community and the police to be soured by this kind of disgraceful attack."

He also clashed with the chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Glen Smyth, who said that since the report there had been a drop in stop and searches and a dramatic rise in street crime.

Mr Straw said Mr Smyth was "peddling" figures which Mr Hague had now admitted were wrong.

William HAgue
William Hague: "Officers are scared"
"There is no evidence whatsoever to link the changes in behaviour of the police since the Macpherson report with the increase in street robberies," he said.

"The figures are completely and utterly wrong... stop and searches are down by nothing like two thirds.

"Street robberies are a problem and we are putting in money to deal with the problem."

Verbal abuse

Mr Smyth also said officer morale had plummeted since the publication of the Macpherson report, another issue raised by Mr Hague.

"The report came as a terrible blow to officers' self esteem," he said.

"It led to them being verbally abused when they were on patrol."

But Mr Straw said the main effects of the Macpherson report had been positive.

"Everybody including... the Conservatives accepted there was a case for setting up the Macpherson inquiry," he said.

"Then the Conservatives too wholeheartedly welcomed the recommendations of that inquiry, as did the Police Federation as well.

"Of course... because it was a hard-hitting report... it was bound to have an effect on the Met, but most people take the view that its effects have been positive."

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See also:

14 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Tory disarray over crime
25 Mar 99 | Stephen Lawrence
The Lawrence inquiry
13 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Tories are 'underdogs' - Hague
14 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hague rounds on 'liberal elite'
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