Met chief in clash on black recruiting

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The Independent Online
THE NEWLY appointed head of the Metropolitan Police clashed yesterday with the Lawrence family's solicitor, who said he would not recommend black people joining the force.

John Stevens, the Deputy Commissioner of the Met, who takes over the running of the force in January, said he was "very disappointed" with Imran Khan for claiming that any new ethnic minority recruit would suffer from a racist "canteen culture" that still existed in the police. Mr Khan, speaking at a conference in London on the same platform as Mr Stevens, also challenged the police chief to accept "categorically and unequivocally" that institutional racism exists within the force.

The solicitor, who represented the Lawrences throughout the landmark inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny into the bungled investigation of their teenage son's murder, said: "I still have trouble with recommending that black people join the police service.

"Essentially, the difficulty stems from the institutional nature of the problem. Whilst the canteen culture still flourishes and, perhaps more importantly, is allowed to flourish, the police service is not going to welcome and retain black recruits. In my view Sir Paul Condon and other police chief officers paid lip service to tackling the problems that were clearly manifesting themselves within the police service."

At the London School of Economics conference on police misconduct, he said: "The challenge to Mr Stevens I lay down today is to categorically and unequivocally accept that there is institutional racism, corruption and misconduct in the Metropolitan Police Service. Unless he does this he will continue the failure of his predecessors and there will be another lost opportunity for change."

Mr Stevens, who was making his first public speech since his appointment, said: "I was very disappointed that he [Mr Khan] would not encourage anyone to join the Metropolitan Police." He said many people were trying hard to do everything they could to boost the number of black and Asian officers, which currently stand at 3.3 per cent of the force. Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, has set the Met a target of increasing the number of ethnic minority officers from 865 to 5,662.

Mr Stevens also countered Mr Khan's remark over the Macpherson report, saying: "The Commissioner is on record as accepting totally the Macpherson report. I categorically go along with that. We have no problem with implementing the Macpherson report." He said it was his task to put the recommendations into practice. Nine were in place, eight would be by Christmas and the rest were coming into effect over two years.

Glen Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents more junior ranks, said: "Mr Khan's comments are hugely negative and wholly unhelpful. It borders on being completely irresponsible. We should all be working together."