National union for black police

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THE FIRST national trade union for black and Asian policemen and women has been set up to counter discrimination against non-white officers.

The National Black Police Association is expected to be launched formally within a few months, and is likely to attract members from forces throughout the country.

An interim executive, with representatives from the seven existing BPAs, is drawing up plans for the national launch. They already have an office, based at the Home Office.

Chief Inspector Ali Dizaei of Thames Valley police, vice- chairman of the NBPA, writing in the Police Review, said: "Many black police officers experience considerable suspicion and hostility when they stand up and discuss issues of discrimination and racism.

"It is not uncommon for their competence or motives to be questioned when they genuinely and passionately believe things are not right.

"The NBPA could resolve some of these issues if police forces are willing to be pragmatic and co-operative."

He added that in a recent study of non-white officers, almost half said they had been stopped and questioned while off duty by police unaware they were talking to fellow officers.

"Thirteen per cent stated they were not treated with respect. This... unequivocally illustrates that the experience of these officers is different."

The national organisation has the backing of Jack Straw, the Home Secretary. He is pressing for chief constables to recruit, retain and promote more black and Asian officers.

However, not all black officers are enthusiastic. Inspector Paul Wilson, chairman of the Metropolitan police BPA, said he was concerned at how far the Home Office would be involved. He said: "We are supportive in principle, but have yet to consult our members and would wish to ensure that any national body fairly reflects the concerns of the Met BPA."