All Met recruits will have to pass race attitude tests

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The Independent Online

All Metropolitan Police recruits will be forced to pass anti-racist tests after an internal inquiry found widespread discrimination against black and Asian officers.

All Metropolitan Police recruits will be forced to pass anti-racist tests after an internal inquiry found widespread discrimination against black and Asian officers.

The disturbing report, seen by The Independent, is likely to reignite the debate about racism in the police.

The investigation found that a disproportionate number of ethnic minority recruits were leaving the Met before completing their 18-week training programme, and that black and Asian officers were failing to be promoted and considered specialist squads as white-only, "no go" zones.

The study by Scotland Yard's senior ethnic minority officer was ordered by Sir John Stevens, the Commissioner of the Met, after a television documentary exposed police recruits in the north-west of England as racist. Panorama's "The Secret Policeman" uncovered some of the most devastating comments and images of extreme racism including one recruit donning a Ku Klux Klan-style hood and praising Hitler. Seven of the eight officers filmed at the training centre in Warrington, Cheshire, have resigned and the eighth remains suspended.

The Met inquiry did not find any similar examples of racism at the training college in Hendon, north London, but it expressed "grave concern" at the proportion of ethnic minority officers leaving the force early. About two-thirds of black and Asian officers - 59 in total who left the Met in the past 12 months - stayed in the force for less than two years. The drop-out rate for white officers was slightly more than one-fifth leaving within two years.

The rates for minority officers are so poor they fail to meet guidelines endorsed by the Commission for Racial Equality.

Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, head of Specialist Crime and author of the report "Thematic Review of Race and Diversity in the Metropolitan Police Service", has called for radical changes. Among the initiatives is a compulsory race and diversity test. Mr Ghaffur said the new test "should be a must-pass competency". His report also says that covert testing is needed to weed out potential racists.

"The Metropolitan Police Service needs to develop more intrusive methods for evaluating applicants' attitudes towards race and diversity. These could include home visits and liaising with teachers and employees," he recommended. Other proposals include having a confidential hotline for referees to reveal whether applicants have racist tendencies and a national database of failed applicants so that anyone suspected of racism could not get a job with a different police force.

Mr Ghaffur, while stressing that the Met had made "huge progress" in the way it deals with London's ethnic community, found that there was a danger ethnic minority recruits felt "excluded and alienated" by the drinking culture among some young police officers. Some non-white recruits were also unhappy about being "labelled" visible ethnic minorities on joining their training schools.

On the issue of promotion, few ethnic minorities applied to or were appointed to specialist squads, such as the firearms and homicide units. "The organisation is in danger of creating a two-tier establishment whereby front-line policing becomes increasingly representative but specialist units ... are predominantly staffed by white officers," says the report. Mr Ghaffur said steps were needed to ensure more black and Asian officers were promoted and joined specialist units, although he ruled out any form of quota system.

The report also highlighted the disproportionate number of black and Asian officers who are investigated in internal inquiries. The officers are up to twice as likely to be subject to an internal inquiry compared with their white colleagues.