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
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Parts Manager

£27300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a leading...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Customer Service Advisor

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading boiler ...

Recruitment Genius: International Customer Service Administrators

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea