Public forums to look at race policies

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AFTER shining a harsh spotlight on the police investigation of Stephen Lawrence's murder, the public inquiry this week moves into its second, more reflective phase.

Over the next two months Sir William Macpherson and his team will consider what recommendations to make to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to prevent the mistakes that blighted the investigation being repeated in the future.

They have already received nearly 100 written submissions. On Thursday, they will hold the first of a series of public meetings at which speakers will be questioned about their policy proposals.

Although their remit is to consider measures to improve the prosecution and investigation of racially-motivated crimes, they will also address the wider context of policing of black communities.

Sir William believes that the first part of the inquiry exposed a crisis of confidence in the police. His report will take account of concerns such as the disproportionately high rate of young black men stopped and searched by police.

The first public meeting will be held at Elephant and Castle, south London, where the tribunal will question representatives from the Home Office, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Black Police Association.

It will then move on to Ealing and Tower Hamlets, before visiting Manchester, Bradford and Bristol. Sir William's report is due to be published early next year.