Is The Met Police Still ‘Institutionally Racist’? 20 Years After The Landmark Macpherson Report, Black Men Respond

The Metropolitan police is no longer “institutionally racist”. Or so said its leaders this week, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the landmark Macpherson report, which found that it was racial prejudice in the force itself which helped allow the murderers of Stephen Lawrence to evade justice. 

Lawrence, an 18-year-old student, was fatally attacked in south London in 1993. The 350-page report, often credited for changing the course of race relations in the UK, was published in 1999, and made a number of clear recommendations for how to repair relations with the black community. 

In particular, it made targets for recruitment, focused on training and retaining black and Asian officers. It also led to the creation of the Police Complaints Commission. 

Reflecting on the impact of the report, Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner, said this week it had “defined my generation of policing”. Controversially, she also claimed racism was no longer an institutional problem in the Met, but at the same time admitted that it could take another 100 years for the force to reflect the ethnic diversity of London, the city it serves.

Duwayne Brookes, Stephen Lawrence’s best friend, who was present on the night that he was murdered, said the commissioner had “no right to say the force is no longer institutionally racist”. 

He told HuffPost UK changes have clearly been made, “in family liaison, reporting and recording of racist incidents, support for victims and witnesses of crime – we now have a victim’s charter; the training has improved – first aid, racism awareness and cultural diversity, community engagement, effective communication. It’s all there – the changes that have been made between then and now.”

But Brookes said what is needed now is “another listening exercise”, similar to a public inquiry, as an “effective way of measuring progress and understanding how people feel today.”

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