Audley Harrison's father: UK police are racist, attitude hasn't improved in 60 years

6 July 2020, 16:35 | Updated: 6 July 2020, 16:40

By Seán Hickey

Amid Bianca Williams' confrontation with police, the father of a former boxer said nothing has changed in the UK police force on racism in over sixty years.

Vincent Harrison is the father of former Team GB gold medallist and prizefighter Audley Harrison. Shelagh Fogarty was taking calls from the public on whether the UK police force is racist when Mr Harrison phoned in to share stories from long ago, right up to the modern day.

"I could read you a book on police treatment to us as black people" he told Shelagh, adding that "what happened to that young lady happened to me as a young man." He began by sharing a story whereby his son's family was victim to police bias.

After stopping at a service station to get a coffee, Audley Harrison's wife and child were searched for drugs by the police according to Vincent. He went as far to say that the "female officer was in the baby's nappy looking for drugs."

"Audley came out with a coffee in his hand...saw his wife standing there" and then "everything changed, they wanted his autograph...they wanted to change the conversation straight away."

Vincent said that in a conversation with his son after the event, the former boxer said "suppose it was another big black man, suppose it wasn't me, with a name, what would have happened then?" He supposed that if an ordinary black man found himself in that situation he could have faced a beating, or worse.

Audley Harrison's father told the story of his son's experience of racism at the hands of UK police
Audley Harrison's father told the story of his son's experience of racism at the hands of UK police. Picture: PA

Vincent was furious that thing like this still go on, reminding Shelagh "this is after sixty years since I came here."

He recalled being followed by a policeman in his youth, losing his temper and asking the officer why he was following him until "he started booking me for all sorts of things...when nothing was wrong with my car." Vincent was taken to court and was "guilty of all these things I did not do."

He told Shelagh that "they used to do the same thing to the Irish in Kilburn" but "the Irish fought their way out of it, we're still in it."

In an apt moment, Vincent said "your researcher asked me if the police are racist. Yes, they are. It's mostly young, white police officers" he added.

Shelagh asked Vincent "how do we change" the institutional racism seen on British streets. "God knows" a dejected Vincent replied.