I’ll be unflinching in holding the police to account and fight against institutional racism, writes Sadiq Khan

22 April 2024, 13:15 | Updated: 22 April 2024, 15:54

I’ll be unflinching in holding the police to account and I vow to continue fight against institutional racism in the Met, writes Sadiq Khan
I’ll be unflinching in holding the police to account and I vow to continue fight against institutional racism in the Met, writes Sadiq Khan. Picture: LBC
Sadiq Khan

By Sadiq Khan

The horrific killing of Stephen, an 18-year-old Black Londoner who had big dreams of becoming an architect, was an act of unspeakable cruelty.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Those of us growing up in south London at the time – and particularly those of us from a minority background – will never forget the ripples of fear and distress it sent through our communities.

The appalling manner in which Stephen’s life was stolen – and the subsequent failure of the police investigations – gave us an understanding of just how deep racism and prejudice could run in our society, forging our generation’s conviction in the moral necessity and urgency of anti-racism.

It was Stephen’s mother, Doreen Lawrence, who led the struggle for justice and it’s why she’ll always be an inspiration to me. But at a time when she should have been given the space to grieve, it was wrong that she had to bear this burden.

Nevertheless, she carried this weight with grace, dignity and remarkable courage.

In fact, it was her tireless campaigning, along with the rest of the Lawrence family and their lawyers, friends and allies, that led to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and Macpherson report and to the determination that the Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist.

This was a watershed moment in the history of race relations in our country and is a major part of Stephen’s legacy.

More than a quarter of a century on from that finding, it pains me to say we’re not where we ought to be. I believe the Lawrence family and wider community need to know that everything possible is being done to bring justice for Stephen and it is vital that any new lines of inquiry are properly investigated.

Last year’s Casey review, which as Mayor I asked to be commissioned because of my continuing concerns, also starkly illustrated just how much work there is still to do to reform our city’s police service.

While it concluded there has been some progress, it also made clear the Met remains institutionally racist, as well as institutionally sexist and institutionally homophobic.

This is why I’ve taken bold action to set the Met on a path of far-reaching systemic and cultural reform, beginning with the appointment of a new Met Commissioner.

It’s also why I’ll be unflinching in holding the police to account as the changes that are desperately needed continue to be made. Londoners have my word that I will not rest until they have the police service they deserve – one that is representative, trusted and truly fit for purpose.

My approach stands in stark contrast to the views expressed by the Conservative Party candidate for London Mayor. She is someone who has denied the existence of institutional racism in the Met, believes that its deep-rooted cultural problems are limited to a few ‘bad’uns’ and ‘wrong’uns’ and thinks police misconduct should be dealt with behind closed doors.

This is one of the reasons why the stakes are so high at the London Mayoral election on 2 May. It is a choice between a Labour Mayor who believes passionately in the necessity of police reform or the Tory who would not just block progress, but take our police force and our city backwards, badly letting down our communities in the process.

Rather than obstructing reform, as my Tory opponent seeks to do, now more than ever we need to recommit to eradicating racism in all its forms, wherever it exists.

After all, we have a responsibility to the Lawrences to make sure that no family ever again has to endure the suffering and heartbreak that they went through.

We also owe it to Stephen not to lose sight of his legacy and to continue to press for the change that is essential for the welfare and wellbeing of our young people.

It’s why, if I'm re-elected, I will endeavour to ensure that all young Londoners – regardless of skin colour or social class – are given the opportunities they deserve for a brighter future, as we strive to build a fairer, safer and more inclusive London for everyone.

LBC Views provides a platform for diverse opinions on current affairs and matters of public interest. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official LBC position.

To contact us email views@lbc.co.uk