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CRE to probe racist attitude in police

Commision for Racial Equality will launch a full-scale inquiry into racist attitudes of police officers, writes Nabanita Sircar.

india Updated: Nov 14, 2003 13:52 IST
Nabanita Sircar
Nabanita Sircar

A formal investigation is to be launched into racist attitudes of the police officers in England and Wales. The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), backed by Home Secretary David Blunkett, is using its powers under the 1976 Race Regulation Act for a full-scale inquiry triggered by last week's BBC programme The Secret Policeman, which exposed racism in trainee officers.

Five trainees in the Greater Manchester Force resigned and three others were suspended after the telecast of he documentary. They were identified denigrating Asians and Blacks.

The senior officials maintained that these were isolated incidents but nevertheless it has led to the CRE's first full-scale inquiry into alleged racism in the police. The inquiry will evoke the unhappy memories of the Macpherson inquiry into the manner the Met police handled the investigation into the murder of a Black teenager Stephen Lawrence at a bus stop. The judge had indicted the Met of suffering from institutional racism.

Trevor Phillips, Chairman of the CRE, said that he had got Blunkett's full support. A panel of commissioners would be set up to direct the investigation. It would be backed by a team of lawyers and will have the power to visit any force and question any officer. The initial finding will be out next spring. Trevor said: "This is an independent inquiry. It will be transparent, focussed and timely."

The CRE has written to all chief constables asking for details of their recruitment, training and vetting and how they encourage and protect whistleblower.

First Published: Nov 14, 2003 13:52 IST