Police `cannot tell black people apart'

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POLICE OFFICERS working in London have openly admitted that they cannot tell black people apart and have difficulty understanding anyone who is not white and British.

The admissions were made during race relations workshops in which police officers were encouraged to express their true feelings on race issues. The sessions were filmed by a television producer for a programme on Channel 4 next Sunday evening.

The film-maker Roger Graef, a member of the Yard's lay advisory group on race relations, said that an internal poll of Metropolitan Police officers had found that 40 per cent of them saw no reason to change working practices to fight institutional racism.

The revelation coincides with reports that a study by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, due to be published next month, will be critical of the Met's approach to race issues, even though Scotland Yard chiefs have promised to prioritise the area.

The officers' frank comments on camera graphically illustrate how difficult it will be for the Met to comply with the recommendations of February's official report on the death of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

The deep-seated conservatism of many rank-and-file officers will concern the Met's Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon. After the inquiry into the black student's killing, Sir Paul said that the will of each police officer to embrace change was "non-negotiable".