Letter: Racist policing

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I would have thought, after the tragic Stephen Lawrence affair, that the police would be bending over backward to improve their standing with the black community.

As a white male working as a broker in the City of London, I have not been stopped or questioned by the City Police. I have, however, witnessed several incidents where car drivers have been stopped by a number of police, sometimes armed. In all cases the drivers stopped have been black and the cars expensive.This has all happened in the past 18 months. Before that, I worked in Holborn, outside the City boundary and policed by the Metropolitan Police, and cannot remember a single similar incident there.

None of this had directly affected me or my company, until last weekend. We are spending a significant amount of money in upgrading our computer systems. Last weekend was critical for the changeover. To lose one of our key engineers for over two hours was disruptive and expensive. Why did he disappear? Because he went down to his car and was arrested. For what reason? None has been given. He is black.

Are we serious in our attempts to maintain the City as the world's primary banking, insurance and shipping market? If we are, then the medieval approach to civil liberties and racial tolerance will have to change. The City Police are funded by the financial success of the City itself and should not be antagonising the many talented black professionals who might like to work there or do business with it.

Our computer engineer does not wish to complain because he would rather forget the unpleasantness and in any case does not believe such complaint would have any effect. The situation makes me ashamed to be white.

COLIN CRIDLAND

Crawley, West Sussex

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