Posted on December 3, 2004

Police Force ‘In Race Law Breach’

BBC News, Dec. 3

The Commission for Racial Equality has told West Midlands Police it is still breaking race relations law.

The BBC has learned the force has been warned twice by the CRE to meet minimum standards that deal with race issues.

It has been told it has until January to sort out the problem or it could face legal action.

The force said it was committed to good race relations, and was confident a review of its procedures would bring it in line with CRE requirements.

Warning notice

Last year’s BBC documentary, The Secret Policeman, exposed racism among recruits at a police training college in Cheshire.

In the wake of that programme, the CRE launched an investigation into police forces in England and Wales.

In an interim report published in June this year, the CRE said 14 out of 43 forces were found to be in breach of the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000, which requires them to compile action plans on how to eliminate discrimination and promote equality.

In October, West Mercia police and West Midlands police were served with compliance notices, warning them to rectify the situation.

BBC social affairs correspondent Barnie Choudhury said that since then, the West Mercia police force has been passed fit.

He said the CRE had told West Midlands police it has until January to make changes or face the courts.

‘Technical’ failing

In theory, the West Midlands chief constable could be held in contempt of court and could potentially face a jail term, if his force is found to have flouted the law.

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, the force played down the criticism, saying the CRE had identified two issues which “did not meet technical requirements”.

The statement added: “We are working closely with the CRE to bring our scheme in line with their standard.

“The force works closely with the Police Authority and the Black and Asian Police Association to foster good community relations, both within the West Midlands and within our own organisation.

“Nationally, the force has the highest percentage of officers and police staff from visible ethnic communities.

“Given our concerns, we are pleased the CRE has agreed to bring forward a review of our scheme and we are confident it will meet CRE expectations.”

The CRE said it was pleased the force was carrying out a review.

“We are looking forward to receiving this and very much hope that it will be found to be fully compliant,” it said.