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Revealed: 90% of Met officers disciplined for racism still work for force

Despite hundreds of complaints of racism towards colleagues over the past five years, only four officers lost their jobs

finlay johnston
24 March 2022, 3.13pm
Metropolitan Police officers at a demonstration
Janine Wiedel Photolibrary / Alamy Stock Photo

Just 5% of Metropolitan Police officers disciplined for racism towards fellow officers in recent years were sacked, openDemocracy can reveal.

Four officers of the 76 who had disciplinary proceedings for racism against their colleagues upheld were dismissed without notice between 2017 and 2021, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests reveal. Three further officers resigned or retired during this period after claims against them for racism were upheld.

It comes after the revelation that two officers who traumatised a Black teenage girl by strip-searching her at her school were only removed from front-line roles last week – two years after the horrifying event took place.

Cressida Dick, the force’s outgoing commissioner, said in May 2020: “In the Met we have zero tolerance of racism.” And in November 2020, speaking outside Brixton Police Station, she claimed: “Officers that display racism are sacked. That’s what we do.”

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In all, London police officers made 300 complaints about racist colleagues between 2017 and 2021, an average of more than one a week.

Of the 76 complaints that were upheld, just 14 (18%) resulted in a ‘full merits hearing’ – the most serious form of disciplinary proceedings an officer can face, which can lead to dismissal.

As well as the four who were dismissed, one potential case for gross misconduct relating to racism against another officer was ongoing at the time of our FOI request.

It means that, overall, nearly 90% of officers who have been disciplined for racism against fellow officers still work for the Met – as do nearly 99% of the 300 officers who had a complaint made against them.

In response to these revelations, the Labour MP for Streatham, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, said: “The lack of serious repercussions for racial discrimination shows how racism is tolerated in the Met, with officers not being held to account for their actions.

“When internal racism is tolerated in this way, it’s unsurprising that it is being reproduced in officers’ interactions with the general public.“The Met needs to overhaul the way it vets officers and create a culture where racism and other forms of discrimination are unacceptable.”

London police officers made 300 complaints about racist colleagues between 2017 and 2021, an average of more than one a week

Our revelations follow a report released this week by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, which found the Met’s approach to tackling corruption within its own ranks to be “fundamentally flawed”. It also found that the force had not vetted all officers who hold sensitive posts – such as those covering child protection, major crime investigation and informant handling.

Katrina French, Director of UNJUST, an organisation that challenges racial injustice within the police, criticised officers who retired or resigned after an allegation was levelled at them. She said: “Such blatant avoidance of accountability only harms policing by undermining trust and legitimacy. The Met must do better.”

Sasha Simic, a representative from the Hackney branch of Stand Up To Racism, said: “The Metropolitan Police remains institutionally racist, irredeemably corrupt and wholly unaccountable.This is not down to one "bad apple" - the whole institution is rotten to the core.”

Within the last year, a number of current and former Met Police officers have spoken out about their experiences of racism within the force. Shabnam Chaudhri, a former Met officer, told the BBC in 2020 that she was “victimised” after making a complaint about racist treatment by other officers.

Kat Hobbs, the communications coordinator for Netpol, a police-monitoring organisation, said, “With police forces reluctant to dismiss racists within their ranks who target their own colleagues, it is hardly surprising that complaints about police racism by the public fail so often. Recent months have exposed again and again the toxic culture of racism, misogyny and hatred within policing in Britain.”

Responding to these findings, a Met Police spokesperson commented:There is no place for racism in the Metropolitan Police Service. We expect our standards to be upheld by all officers and staff.

“This is not the same Met as it was 20 to 25 years ago.”

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