Met police 'not free of racism,' Commissioner Cressida Dick says

13 November 2020, 08:56

Cressida Dick said the Met is not free of racism
Cressida Dick said the Met is not free of racism. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has said that the force is not free "of discrimination, racism or bias".

Her remarks come amid concerns police are disproportionately targeting black Londoners.

Ms Dick said today that she acknowledges that "trust in the Met is still too low in some black communities, as is their trust in many other institutions.

"I feel very sorry about that. It is something I have worked to change and I commit now to stepping up that work further.

"My top two operational priorities are reducing violence and increasing public confidence in the Met, particularly the confidence of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

"Actions are more important than words and, as I have said before, we can do more and we will.

"The Met is not free of discrimination, racism or bias," she said.

"I have always acknowledged that and do now again. In the Met we have zero tolerance of racism.

"My job is to continue to try to eliminate any such racism and discrimination, however it appears. "

Her remarks come as the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for an immediate review of police road traffic stops in the capital as part of a plan to address concerns over tactics affecting black Londoners.

The London mayor has asked the Metropolitan Police to launch a year-long pilot scheme looking at samples of vehicle stops to identify any disproportionality relating to ethnicity.

Figures show black people are almost four times more likely to be stopped and searched in the street than white people in London. They are also six times more likely to be stopped in their vehicles, according to City Hall.

The pilot project is part of an action plan published by the mayor on Friday to address concerns over the use of police powers affecting black Londoners, including stop and search and the use of Taser.

Mr Khan said: "In London, we pride ourselves on a being a beacon of diversity and a city that is both fair and inclusive. But the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer, which followed the tragic killing of George Floyd, highlighted how much more we have to do to improve trust and confidence among the black community in our public institutions.

"Through the development of this action plan, we've listened and responded to the continued frustrations of black Londoners who are concerned about the disproportionate use of some police powers.

"It's simply not right that black Londoners have less trust and confidence in our police service and it's something I am determined to resolve."

The Met has faced controversy and accusations of racial profiling following a series of incidents filmed and shared online, including the vehicle stop of Team GB athlete Bianca Williams and her Portuguese sprinter boyfriend Ricardo Dos Santos.

Five officers are being investigated for misconduct after they were pulled over while travelling with their baby in west London in July.

The mayor said he recognised the progress made by the Met since the force was labelled "institutionally racist" in Sir William Macpherson's 1999 report following an inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

However, Mr Khan added: "More must be done - and will be done through this action plan - properly to recognise and address the impact that some police tactics used disproportionately on black people is having.

"This starts with involving communities and ensuring they have proper oversight and scrutiny of stop and search, the use of Tasers and the use of force, as well as in the training of new police officers so they can better understand the trauma that the disproportionate use of police powers can have on black Londoners."

City Hall will invest £1.7 million to help boost the recruitment and progression of black officers.

The Met wants up to 40% of new recruits to be from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds by 2022 and Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick will re-introduce the London residency criteria for most officers joining the force.

Mr Khan's plan also aims to ensure officers are not relying on the smell of cannabis alone when deciding to stop and search a person, with such incidents subjected to "London-wide scrutiny panels".

A City Hall source said: "This is generational, the most significant changes to policing and black communities since the Macpherson report."