Boris Johnson launches Met police review


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Indy Politics

London mayor Boris Johnson has admitted more needs to be done to increase recruitment of police officers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, after a volley of allegations of racism against the Metropolitan Police.

Launching a review of measures introduced to eradicate racism within the force four years ago, Mr Johnson said progress had been made, but he admitted it was not enough.

His comments came as Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe reaffirmed his commitment to stamping out prejudice within the force, following confirmation that the police watchdog had received 51 allegations of racism by Met officers in the last two months.

He said: "Racists need to know they have no home in the Met."

In 2008, the mayor commissioned a Race and Faith Inquiry into racism within the Met.

Reporting to the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee today, the mayor said it was "vital" the force "commands the confidence of all Londoners".

He said 10% of Met officers were of black or ethnic minority origin, up from 8%.

Mr Johnson said: "We need to go much further and be recruiting from communities across London."

Asked by committee member Jenny Jones why more had not already been done, the mayor replied: "This is about confidence.

"There's been a lot in the papers about allegations of racism in the Met.

"There's been a lot around to cause concern.

"We need to show we're on the front foot and make sure this force reflects London.

"It's my strong view that a police force that reflects the ethnic composition of London will command the support of Londoners.

"I think progress has been made but there's more to do."

The review comes three weeks after a Met sergeant was suspended over allegations of racism.

Last month, Scotland Yard vowed to get to the bottom of "very damaging" footage of one officer apparently racially abusing a man and another allegedly assaulting a teenage boy last summer.

The death of Mark Duggan, shot by officers during last August's city riots, is also being investigated by police.

Community groups alleged Mr Duggan's race contributed to his death.

And a cloud still lingers over the Met, nearly 20 years after the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, amid allegations that "institutional racism" within the force resulted in delays in securing a conviction.

Today, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) revealed it had received 51 racism complaints about the Met since the start of the new calendar year.

An IPCC spokesman said: "The IPCC has received 51 referrals from the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) of complaints/conduct matters where an allegation of racism has been made and where the alleged misconduct took place after April 1 2012.

"Of these, nine have been sent back to the force for local handling and 42 are being supervised by the IPCC."

Mr Hogan-Howe told the committee: "Any organisation needs to look at itself and see how it can improve over time. Racists need to know they have got no home in the Met."

Mr Johnson was also forced to defend cuts to civilian staff, after it was confirmed that 6,579 Met police officers were fulfilling back office functions rather than working on the frontline.

Ms Jones asked Mr Johnson how he intended to get some of these back onto the beat after £50 million was spent last year to make 900 civilian staff redundant, causing police officers to work "in call centres and custody suites".

Mr Johnson replied: "There is potential to move substantial numbers out of posts where perhaps their talents and abilities are not being recognised."