Black `Lawrence report' slams police

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The Independent Online
AN ALTERNATIVE version of the Stephen Lawrence report, written from a black perspective, has called for police officers to undergo compulsory university courses designed to make them more culturally aware.

The report, commissioned by the public services union, Unison, claims that the inquiry into Stephen's death showed that police anti-racist training had clearly failed "to inform or educate the many officers who repeatedly used the term coloured".

It demands that all police recruits be required to take diploma or degree courses taught and devised by civilians.

The report, based on the views of hundreds of black opinion formers and community groups, states: "The programmes should be informed by an integral philosophy of human rights, diversity and anti-discriminatory practice and be run and delivered by civilian lecturers."

The proposal has caused anger in the police. Glen Smythe, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: "The mere holding of an academic qualification does not make you an even-handed person. It's how you discharge your responsibilities that makes the difference."

Mr Smythe, who said the police service was already finding it difficult to recruit graduates on its pay structure, pointed out that much training was already provided by civilians.

But the report, to be published later this month, also demands that the investigation of complaints against police and the inspection of forces should be carried out by civilians.

The research, by the Leicester De Montfort University and the anti-racist 1990 Trust, was based on black people's responses to questions placed on the internet and evidence submitted by black organisations to the official inquiry into Stephen's murder, headed by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny.

Details of the report's findings have been revealed to The Independent on Sunday in the week that it has emerged that no police officer is to be punished over the bungled murder investigation. Detective Inspector Ben Bullock was last Tuesday cleared of all serious charges at an internal police disciplinary tribunal. He is likely to escape with a caution or admonishment and will then retire on a pension.

The Unison report, titled A Culture of Denial, calls unequivocally for the departure of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon.

Author Karen Chouhan, a senior lecturer in the university's Black Studies Unit, writes: "If we cannot prosecute his killers, the minimum the black community expects is that a senior officer takes responsibility for the racism debacle and either resigns or faces disciplinary action and is removed from the force."

Sir Paul is held culpable for his initial reluctance to accept that institutional racism existed in the Met and his assurances that all was being done that could be done early in the murder investigation.

The new report also takes issue with Sir William's definition of institutional racism, saying "its emphasis on unwitting and collective failure, allows institutional racism to become almost accidental".

The report's co-author, Lee Jasper, director of the 1990 Trust and a member of Home Secretary Jack Straw's Race Relations Forum, said: "One of the major responses to our consultation was the fear in the black community that if reform of the police is left to the police themselves then the job will not get done."

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