Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

MP defends police race criticism

Police on the beat
David Davies says white officers should be allowed full membership

A Conservative MP has defended his criticism of a black police officers' group when he told them their policy on white members could be seen as racism.

Monmouth MP David Davies said it was a matter of principle to urge the National Black Police Association to let white officers be full members.

He was slow-handclapped at the York conference and a number walked out.

But the NBPA said the MP, a special constable, was disrespectful, and some members at a local level were white.

He was invited by mistake, when the NBPA wanted to hear from his near-namesake, former shadow home secretary David Davis.

Instead the Monmouth MP received the invitation, and he astonished members with a highly critical speech.

Mr Davies said full membership of the association should be open to white officers, and not simply associate membership.

David Davies MP
It got very heated unfortunately but what I said was a matter of principle

David Davies, Monmouth MP

"I did say the association policy of denying full membership to white police officers could be viewed as racism," said Mr Davies.

He also told the conference its policy could suggest that white people care less about racism than people of black, middle eastern or African origin.<

He had told the conference that it was a shame that full membership [of the NBPA] ws open only to those of black, Asian or Middle Eastern origin.

"Tackling racism and unfair treatment of ethnic minorities is something which is taken seriously by members of every race," he told the conference.

In a question and answer session at the end Mr Davies's comments were likened to those of the British National Party in the 1980s.

He told delegates: "You invited me to come here, if you wanted someone just to turn up and give the same old speech you should have picked somebody else."

'A bit surprised'

Mr Davies said later: "It got very heated unfortunately, but what I said was a matter of principle."

He said he was asked if he wanted an escort to take him from the building because he had so enraged some members of the audience.

He said: "They asked me to come along and speak to them. I'm a member of the home affairs select committee and a special constable and I accepted.

He was extremely disrespectful to the NBPA and it did cause concern
National Black Police Association

"It seems they may have wanted the other David Davies but that's not my problem. They're the NBPA - I would expect them to know the difference."

"If I'm asked to going along there and give a speech that's what I'm going to do."

"They did look a bit surprised when I turned up and told them what I was going to say.

"I don't think they realised the full gravity of what it was going to mean."

He stood by his criticisms, saying it was "unacceptable" and "disgraceful" that white officers were excluded from the group.

"They seem to hold the view that only black and Asian people care about racism and that's not true."

A spokesman for the National Black Police Association said: "He was extremely disrespectful to the NBPA and it did cause concern.

"The NBPA does not have any individual members. It is made up of local associations and some allow full white membership.

"He was slow-handclapped and about a dozen of our members walked out."

Some officers at the conference had expected Mr Davies's namesake, the former shadow home secretary David Davis, to be speaking.

But the NBPA spokesman said the Monmouth MP had been asked because of his role on the commons home affairs committee.

"We are going to discuss whether to invite David Davies again," he said.

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