Superintendent Paul Wilson is just the tip of the iceberg

The police force was rocked again after a black senior officer claimed that he was sidelined for promotion after writing a report which exposed racism against black officers.

Superintendent Paul Wilson, 51, and who has worked in the police force for 31 years said he was asked to carry out a survey on the experience of black officers in 2008, however he says that when his report revealed bias against black officers it was covered up by senior officers, and while his colleagues were up for promotion he was overlooked.

Superintendent Wilson is now taking the Met to an employment tribunal next week claiming that he was overlooked for promotion because of discrimination.

This is not the first time that the police force has come under fire for racism in the last few years. In October 2008,  the Metropolitan Black Police Officers Association (BPA) was set to boycott all recruitment drives by the police force to recruit new officers from black and minority ethnic communities in protest of what they described as “a hostile atmosphere where racism is allowed to spread.” (ITN: Monday, 6 October 2008)

In the ITN report the BPA said:

The Metropolitan Police under the current management and supervision of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) have made the working environment for its existing black staff a hostile atmosphere where racism is allowed to spread and those who challenge it are either suspended, told to shut up or subtly held back in relation to career development.”

We would be failing our duty as an association if we did not share our current experiences with those who want to join the MPS.”

…We will not put up or shut up to racism and inequality.”

The boycott was supported by The Society of Black Lawyers, who in August 2008 highlighted a report by former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Lord Ouseley, which indicated that black solicitors in the UK are overrepresented in areas of regulatory activity, and said that urgent change is needed if charges of institutional racism are not to be made. (London Evening Standard: 14 August 2008)

On the 22 September 2008, the London Evening Standard reported that members of the BPA feared that they were being spied upon by their colleagues. They said that they had to employ counter surveillance techniques such as purchasing unregistered pay-as-you-go phones and having their offices swept for bugging devices to prevent eavesdropping. They even held meetings in secret locations away from police locations.

In February 2009, Cindy Butts, a Police Authority member and chairing the investigation into a number of race claims against the police force has said that while there has been a significant improvement in the number of black and minority ethnic police officers recruited in the force, there are still ‘substantial problems’ in regards to the treatment of black and minority ethnic officers. One in fifteen police officers in the London boroughs are now from a minority ethnic background yet racism is still a significant problem in the force. (Independent: February 18 2009)

On May 23 2009, a Daily Telegraph report revealed that West Yorkshire Police was under investigation into its disciplinary procedures after accusations of racism against ethnic minority officers.

The claims was outlined in a dossier leaked to the Sunday Telegraph and focused on the Professional Standards Department (PSD), which investigates other officers within the force.

The dossier cited evidence that ethnic minority officers were punished more harshly than white officers for the same offence. One Muslim officer claimed that he was asked by a senior officer to get a “bacon buttie” during Ramadan when he was fasting. Another Muslim officer said that he was called a “terrorist” by a senior officer because he was carrying a rucksack.

The dossier also revealed that evidence against ethnic minority officers was fabricated.

If the police force is going to gain trust from black and minority ethnic communities the record shows that it will be an uphill struggle and there is still a long way to go before that trust is earned. If anything, the evidence so far is not encouraging.

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