Key Macpherson report figure says Met is still racist

One of the panel identified stop and search as proof of continuing racism

The Metropolitan Police remains "institutionally racist", a member of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry panel told The Independent, and has wasted the opportunity to carry out major reforms.

Dr Richard Stone – one of the four men whose damning conclusions in the 1999 Macpherson report led to major changes in UK race relations – said that police tactics remained biased against the black population. Dr Stone identified stop-and-search tactics, which disproportionately target young black men, and the absence of even one serving black or Asian officer above the rank of commander at Scotland Yard.

"The police really haven't moved on when it comes to racism at all," Dr Stone said. "After all that effort that everybody put in, somehow nothing has really changed."

Dr Stone said Lord Macpherson told him that, of all the things he had done in his life, that inquiry was the most important. "I felt the same," he said. "I feel it's all wasted. It's very sad." Asked if he thought the force remained institutionally racist, he said: "I'm afraid so."

Dr Stone was one of the three assistants to Lord Macpherson on the panel whose findings produced a wave of national soul-searching after it said that Britain's biggest force was institutionally racist. The term was defined as the collective failure to provide proper policing to people because of their colour, culture and ethnic origin. Discrimination was seen through "unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping".

Following the report, the Met underwent major changes to the way it conducted murder inquiries, dealt with victims' families and worked with the community. Operation Trident, which investigates gun-related murders in London, has won plaudits for the way it has worked with the black community. Scotland Yard now has nearly 10 per cent of black or ethnic minority officers, up from 3.4 per cent at the time of the inquiry's report in 1999.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Cressida Dick said the force had been "completely transformed" in the past 12 years.

"There are still some things we would like to improve further but if you look at our recruitment of minority staff, our use of independent advisers and the way we deal with racist incidents, it's all utterly different from the way we were at the time of the inquiry."

She added: "It's for others to judge if we are institutionally racist or not."

Yet since the departure of Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur in 2008, there has been no ethnic minority officer above the rank of commander – a situation that is mirrored nationally. A survey in 2010 revealed that only four of the 269 officers at the level of assistant chief constable or above were from a minority background.

Mr Ghaffur left the force after accusing the then Commissioner Sir Ian Blair of racism. He later withdrew the claim after settling his discrimination claim out of court. The incident prompted Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, to order another inquiry into racism at the Yard and led to the temporary boycotting of ethnic minority recruitment by the Metropolitan Black Police Association.

Its chairman, Bevan Powell, said the organisation was now working with the force and there had been improvements. "There is still work to be done. It's still institutionally racist but that doesn't mean that individual officers are racist."

The post-Lawrence years have seen other damaging race rows involving police forces, prompting campaigners to claim the problem had merely been driven underground. One BBC reporter went undercover at Greater Manchester Police in 2004 and secretly filmed trainee officers expressing racist views.

The programme led to a formal investigation by the then Commission for Racial Equality into the way police were recruited, trained and promoted.

Meanwhile, community leaders have pointed to stop and search – a report in 2010 found that a black person was at least six times as likely to be stopped and searched by police in England and Wales as a white person – as a continuing cause of mistrust.

Dr Stone's conclusion was disputed by Derek Barnett, president of the Police Superintendents' Association, who said the service today is "unrecognisable" from that of the time when Stephen Lawrence was killed "in terms of the seriousness with which the service treats hate crime, investigative standards, the interviewing of suspects and the collection of exhibits. All of these have become more professional and transparent."

* Stephen Lawrence: How the case breakthrough came
* A shrunken family: The first journalist to interview the Lawrences recalls the scene
* The science that helped convict Gary Dobson

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003