Top black policeman fights racism in the Met

A RADICAL new approach to crimes of racial hatred will dramatically improve the poor standing of the Metropolitan Police, according to Britain's most senior black police officer.

In his first interview, Chief Superintendent Mike Fuller said the Met was poised to make the "great leap forward" in its relations with minority communities in the capital.

Ch Supt Fuller, 39, is a leading member of the new Racial and Violent Crime Task Force, set up last month by Scotland Yard to try to restore confidence in the police among black Londoners.

It was created following severe criticism of the failure of the police to bring to justice the murderers of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was killed in south London in 1993.

The Met was further embarrassed last week at the inquest on pop singer Michael Menson, who died after being found in flames on a north London street in January 1997. He told officers he had been set alight by a gang of white men, but they ignored his claims assuming he was mentally ill. John Townsend, deputy assistant commissioner of the Met, apologised to Mr Menson's family for the failure to take the victim's allegations seriously.

More pressure is mounting to re-open the investigation into the death of 20-year-old Lakhvinnder "Ricky" Reel, who drowned in the Thames last October. Police said he fell in drunk; his family believe racists threw him in the river.

Ch Supt Fuller said the task force was setting up structures to ensure mistakes were not repeated.

"The aim is to create an anti-racist police force and treat the victims of racist crime with the same seriousness as we do women who have been raped," he said. There are 5,000 race-related crimes in London every year.

Improvements in intelligence gathering, identifying crime trends, setting new standards in investigations and training police officers to be more sensitive to the problems of ethnic minorities were being phased in, said Ch Supt Fuller. All ranks at every police station in the capital will be involved and pounds 1m has been committed to the project.

This far-reaching overhaul is intended to purge the Metropolitan Police of unconscious racism which permeates the 28,000-strong force, said Ch Supt Fuller. There are only 860 ethnic-minority officers, so another priority will be recruiting more of them from ethnic minorities, in a city where one in five of the population is non-white.

Ch Supt Fuller, will take command of the inner-city Battersea division next month. He says there is nothing tokenistic about his success, because he is rich in experience - in uniform, as a detective and as a police strategist. "It was not a knee-jerk appointment and I relish the opportunity."

Ch Supt Fuller joined the force 21 years ago. Many of his peers became alienated from the force due to harassment. His impression was more positive. He recalls officers visiting his secondary school in Crawley, Sussex, who were friendly and approachable.

But when he started, the use of racist language in the force was frequent. "It was the norm, inside and outside the police, and some of it was very offensive, but I always challenged it. It would be very unusual to hear racist comments today."

Fear and loathing of the police is at its height among the black community and it has meant black officers frequently have to deal with insults condemning them as race traitors.

Ch Supt Fuller experienced the full fury of this antagonism when Brixton's black youth rioted against alleged police brutality and racism in 1981. He was a young constable in riot gear on the other side of the burning barricades.

"I was singled out. They were shouting, `Kill the black one first'. It was the most frightening experience of my career. As a black police officer you experience extreme reactions from the black community. People are either very positive or very negative. But far more are positive, and that makes it all worthwhile."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea