Posted on November 17, 2020

Furious Tories Blast Sadiq Khan After He Twice Refuses to Deny Met Police Is ‘Institutionally Racist’

Tom Pyman and Martin Robinson, Daily Mail, November 13, 2020

Sadiq Khan today repeatedly refused to deny he believes the Met Police is institutionally racist as he ordered the force to justify stop and searches on black suspects and double their target for new BAME recruits from 19 per cent to 40 per cent within two years.

Mr Khan has ordered the 40 per cent recruitment target by 2022 because 40 per cent of the London population is from the Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) community as he seeks to overhaul Scotland Yard from City Hall.

He has also convinced Scotland Yard Commissioner Cressida Dick that officers will have to review stop and search and justify incidents to community panels. But their joint race action plan, published today, does not make clear if the panels will have any powers to punish officers they believe have behaved inappropriately.

Mr Khan has previously backed claims the Met was guilty of racial profiling following a series of incidents filmed and shared online, including the vehicle stop of black Team GB athlete Bianca Williams in July and Labour MP Dawn Butler in August.

While the Mayor is responsible for policing in the capital, he will face accusations that he is overreaching his powers ahead of next year’s election. Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said today her force is ‘not free of discrimination, racism or bias’, despite insisting in August that the Met is not institutionally racist.

But Mr Khan today twice refused to deny he believed the force is ‘institutionally racist’ in an interview with Sky News.

Tory leader at City Hall, Susan Hall, tweeted: ‘Khan has been asked twice if he thinks the ⁦ @metpoliceuk are institutionally racist and he would not answer directly. Let me help you Mr Mayor – the Met Police are NOT institutionally racist’.

Tory London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey said: ‘Sadiq Khan promised to make London’s police force look like London. Four years on, only 15% of officers come from a BAME background. And this has an effect on policing.

‘Yes, we need to send the message that if you carry a weapon you will be caught. But we also need to improve relations between police and the communities they serve.

‘Sadiq Khan has failed on both counts. So as Mayor, I’ll make sure London’s police look like London by starting Operation Diverse Force.

‘And I’ll introduce scan and search. It’s less invasive, provides the police with the resources they need, and most importantly takes weapons off our streets’.

Mr Khan’s demand to review stop and search sets him on another collision course with the Government.

A Home Office source told MailOnline: ‘Stop and search is a vital police tool. It takes deadly weapons off our streets and save lives. Priti Patel has met countless mums who say it could have saved their sons lives. Despite Sadiq’s politicking, Priti still backs officers to use it 100%’.

Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: ‘When Boris and I were in City Hall we increased the number of BAME recruits in the Met, while cutting crime and making communities safer.

‘But, despite being responsible for crime and policing in the capital for four years, Sadiq Khan is largely absent when it comes to making London safer’.

The Labour Mayor of London, who will stand for re-election next May, has said that he has made the demands after listening to the ‘continued frustrations of black Londoners who are concerned about the disproportionate use of some police powers’.

He said: ‘In London, we pride ourselves on a being a beacon of diversity and a city that is both fair and inclusive. But the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer, which followed the tragic killing of George Floyd, highlighted how much more we have to do to improve trust and confidence among the black community in our public institutions’.

The Met’s ranks are currently 15 per cent BAME – and last year a Scotland Yard report estimated that they would need a century for the force to reach racial parity with the city it serves.

Experts have said there is a nationwide shortage of ethnic minority staff as half of all non-white police already work in London. Outside London, 6.9 per cent of police are non-white, when the overall population of the UK is 14 per cent from ethnic groups, with a national recruitment drive to find more BAME officers and reach parity largely failing.

The Mayor has pushed for the changes after claiming that a black person in London is six times more likely to be pulled over while driving than a white people. Black people are also four times more likely to be stopped and searched in the street than a white person, a City Hall report said this year.

In an action plan unveiled today after months of talks between City Hall and Scotland Yard, Met commissioner Cressida Dick said her force is ‘not free of discrimination, racism or bias’ and has vowed to eliminate it.

On Sky News Mr Khan refused to say if the force was still institutionally racist

The developments come at the end of a year of protests by the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a white officer who kept his knee on the victim’s neck for more than eight minutes.

Half of all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) police officers in England and Wales – more than 5,000 – work in the Met, while around 31 per cent of its 2,000 special constables and 43 per cent of its volunteer police cadets are from such backgrounds.

There are also nearly 10,000 police staff colleagues of whom more than a quarter are from BAME communities.

However, the commissioner has outlined an ambition to increase the numbers further and ensure BAME officers make up 40 per cent of all Met officers recruited from 2022, while trying to encourage more black Londoners to consider a career in policing.

The scheme, which has also been worked on by London Mayor Sadiq Khan includes £400,000 of ring-fenced funding as part of efforts to eradicate disproportionality in promoting officers, so there are ultimately more BAME sergeants and inspectors.

Furthermore, new recruits will spend a proportion of their initial learning understanding the history of the local area they will police, including learning the cultural history, lived experiences and the challenges the communities have faced.

Steps are also being outlined to improve stop-and-searches, which top brass insist must be justified to community panels.

The commissioner said: ‘I want the Met to be the most trusted police service in the world. We have made a lot of progress over many years, but there is much more to be done. I have been committed to this work throughout my service as a police officer and that commitment is as strong as ever.

‘I recognise trust in the Met is still too low in some black communities, as is their trust in many other institutions. I feel very sorry about that. It is something I have worked to change and I commit now to stepping up that work further.

‘Lower levels of trust create challenges to keeping Londoners safe – be it a reluctance to share information, to report crime, or to support our work to tackle violence. Sadly this leads to more black victims of crime.

‘My top two operational priorities are reducing violence and increasing public confidence in the Met, particularly the confidence of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Actions are more important than words and, as I have said before, we can do more and we will.

‘George Floyd’s death was utterly awful. We all recognised the strength of feeling over the summer here in London and elsewhere. I fervently believe that UK policing is entirely different from policing in the US, but I do understand that what happened has reignited questions on policing and black communities, both now, and in the past.

‘I recognise and regret the pain and anguish felt by many in our black communities. Some people have a strong sense of injustice and unfairness – for some that is historic and for some that is today. Let me assure you, we in the Met are listening and want to work with our black communities to accelerate change.

‘Our job is to protect all of London’s communities – and to do so with professionalism and empathy. Levels of violence and crime generally are too high. I have met too many grieving parents, grieving mothers, of murder victims to not know the devastating impact of people carrying knives and guns.

‘Sadly the most serious violent crime on our streets, knife and gun enabled, affects our black communities more than others.

‘As police, we have exceptional powers vested in us, in order to prevent crime and disorder, keep the public safe and to bring people to justice. Sometimes we have to use those powers swiftly and firmly. When we use those powers we must do so carefully, without bias and with compassion.

‘That is why we are redoubling our efforts to explain why we do what we do, to make improvements where necessary and to build confidence. Along with a great many other people and institutions in London, we have a duty to do all we can to ensure London remains a safe and free global city.’

The Met has faced controversy and accusations of racial profiling following a series of incidents filmed and shared online, including the vehicle stop of Team GB athlete Bianca Williams and her Portuguese sprinter boyfriend Ricardo Dos Santos.

Five officers are being investigated for misconduct after they were pulled over while travelling with their baby in west London in July.

The mayor said he recognised the progress made by the Met since the force was labelled ‘institutionally racist’ in Sir William Macpherson’s 1999 report following an inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

However, Mr Khan added: ‘More must be done – and will be done through this action plan – properly to recognise and address the impact that some police tactics used disproportionately on black people is having.

‘This starts with involving communities and ensuring they have proper oversight and scrutiny of stop and search, the use of Tasers and the use of force, as well as in the training of new police officers so they can better understand the trauma that the disproportionate use of police powers can have on black Londoners.’

City Hall will invest £1.7 million to help boost the recruitment and progression of black officers.

Mr Khan’s plan also aims to ensure officers are not relying on the smell of cannabis alone when deciding to stop and search a person, with such incidents subjected to ‘London-wide scrutiny panels’.

A City Hall source said: ‘This is generational, the most significant changes to policing and black communities since the Macpherson report.’