Met commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe highlights media role in a more diverse force


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The Independent Online

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, spoke today of the challenges shared by Scotland Yard and the news media in serving the needs of London's increasingly diverse population.

In a speech made at the London Press Club Awards, Sir Bernard said he wanted young Londoners of all ethnic backgrounds to see a career in the police as a "fantastic vocation" which stood alongside other leading professions.

He said: "Some cultures,and some of the majority population, seem to often think of policing as an artisan trade left to the artisans. We don't often hear that they want to be a senior police officer."

Sir Bernard said he wanted a force that was "more professional, more effective and totally represents the aspirations of the people of London". Quoting figures that showed that only 45 per cent of Londoners categorised themselves as "white British", he admitted that only 10 per cent of Met officers were from ethnic minority backgrounds. "There's far more that we can do there to make sure that we represent London in all its richness," he said.

Sir Bernard said it was not his job to "meet a right-wing political agenda" but to ensure the safety of all Londoners. "My job is not to question whether immigration and change to our community are good things," he said, adding that "a crime is not made worse because it's committed by someone from overseas."

But he said his job was made more complex by such factors as the public reaction in Pakistan to comments made by Pakistani politicians exiled in London.

"This city is changing faster than ever," he said. "It's certainly the most diverse city in the UK and we would argue the world."

Speaking at the Stationers' and Newspaper Markers' Hall, in the City of London, Sir Bernard told a room full of editors and other senior journalists, that the news media faced similar challenges to the police in serving a diverse population in changing times.

But he said there was no better way for the police to communicate key messages to the public than via the mass media with its large audiences. He acknowledged that both the police service and the press had suffered from recent crises in poublic confidence but said that "journalism in Britain is improving all the time", citing the recent appointment by American network NBC of the senior ITV journalist Deborah Turness as the new head of NBC News.   

The London Press Club made an award of Londoner of the Year to Lord Coe, who thanked the press for its coverage of last year's London Olympics.

The former BBC Newsnight reporter Liz MacKean criticised BBC bosses as she accepted a joint award for Scoop of the Year for her role in uncovering abuse by Jimmy Savile. "They have singularly failed to acknowledge that the BBCshould have run the story," she said. The award was also made to her colleague Meirion Jones, to ITV's Mark Williams-Thomas and The Oldie's Miles Goslett for their parts in exposing Savile's behaviour.

John Humphrys, presenter on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, was named Broadcast Journalist of the Year, partly for his probing interview with former BBC Director-General George Entwistle last year. Humphrys said the award should have gone to his BBC colleague the foreign correspondent Paul Wood. "All I did was get the Director-General sacked," he said.

Humphrys praised the role of newspapers as part of the wider news media. "They do the stuff the BBC cannot do," he said. "God knows what we would do without you."

The blogger of the year was Susi Boniface, author of the Fleet Street Fox blog, which was praised for giving "an insider's perspective of what it was like to be a popular newspaper reporter". The Daily Mail's Chris Tookey was named Arts Reviewer of the Year. Business Journalist of the Year was the investigative reporter Tom Bergin of Reuters for a "string of business scoops that rocked big corporates both here and in the US". The winner of the Edgar Wallace Award was Caitlin Moran of The Times.

The London Press Club praised the Evening Standard for the high quality of its output and said it had enjoyed a "very good year" and moved into profit. The Times was named Daily Newspaper of the Year and the Sunday newspaper of the year was the Mail on Sunday.