Neville Lawrence: Police still treat black community like 'thieves and robbers'


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The Independent Online

The father of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence has told a conference that police were still treating members of the black community as if they were "thieves and robbers".

Asked if there was still tensions between police and the black community, Neville Lawrence replied he had tried to explain to police that they could not tell a group in a community "you're all thieves and robbers" and expect them to help with information when an incident happened but they're still not listening".

Mr Lawrence, who was talking a fringe meeting organised at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference in Manchester, said: "I've been working with the police for the last 20 years, going into different parts of the organisation, explaining to them the way they should be treating the public when they stop them."

He said he was trying to make them realise "if they treat the community badly and then there's a crime in the community, they won't be getting any information.

"I think something which I've tried to explain to them, but they're still not listening, is you can't say to a group of people in a community 'you're all thieves and robbers' and then when there's a situation and they go in for information, the first thing they're going to tell you is 'I'm a thief, I'm a robber, why are you asking?'"

Stephen, an 18-year-old who wanted to become an architect, was murdered by a group of racists 21 years ago while waiting with a friend at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London. His family have been fighting ever since to bring his killers to justice.

Mr Lawrence said it took 19 and a half years to bring two his killers to justice even though police had information about the gang who attacked him the following morning but - if his son had committed a murder and the police had information about it - he and his family would have been arrested the following morning.