17 Apr 2012

Police racism: 293 cases, five dismissals

As the CPS recommends a Met Police officer is charged for racially abusing a suspect during last year’s riots, Channel 4 News can exclusively reveal the number of cases of racism among UK police.

The incidents range from racist language in emails to the use of the n***** word.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information act, date back to the Macpherson report 13 years ago which followed the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence and led to the Met Police being labelled “institutionally racist”.

Also on Tuesday, a review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) found “sufficient evidence” to charge Met Police officer Alex McFarlane with a “racially aggravated public order offence”, and has now advised the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to press charges.

The officer was accused of using racist language against a 21-year-old black man, and was apparently recorded by the suspect on his mobile phone.

Earlier this month, Channel 4 News revealed 120 race cases inside the Met and just one dismissal during the same time frame. This data, gathered from 31 forces in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, completes the national picture.

Channel 4 News can reveal that between 1999 and 2012:
• 293 police officers were disciplined for racist behaviour
• 749 were referred to the IPCC
• Five were dismissed
• Seven were forced to resign

Of all the 749 cases referred to the IPCC, 513 were within the Metropolitan Police.

One of the officers who was dismissed in 1999, used insulting and abusive language to another police officer, saying; “Michael, that’s why we keep down n******.” The officer was disciplined by being forced to resign, but on appeal, was dismissed.

Another officer from the same police force was reported in 2006, for interrupting a briefing about treating members of the community equally. He stood up and said: “Bollocks! They’re all black bastards and I hate them all.” The case was not referred to the IPCC and the PC was given a warning.

In many of the cases, officers were fined or given a written warning for inappropriate racist behaviour. One was fined for sending an email including “inappropriate and racist terminology” from the police server.

Prosecution ‘is necessary’

In a statement following her review of PC McFarlane’s case, Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor said: “I have taken the decision in this case that, as well as there being sufficient evidence…a prosecution is necessary in order to maintain confidence in the criminal justice system.

“It is regrettable that the original decision was wrong, but I hope the action taken and my decision today demonstrates the willingness of the CPS to review its decisions independently and swiftly and to take appropriate action where necessary.”

The decision comes as Scotland Yard confirmed last week that 10 cases are being referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) after fresh allegations of racist comments earlier this year.