By Martin Beckford Daily Telegraph 09 Apr 2012
The Prime Minister, who recently held a Downing Street summit on race discrimination in football, is facing calls from the National Black Police Association to take on a “leadership role” in the crisis.
Campaigners also want ministers to bring back the Lawrence Steering Group, which helped monitor the relationship between police and ethnic minorities in the wake of the Macpherson Report that branded the Met “institutionally racist”.
Meanwhile senior officers in the country’s largest force will be questioned by MPs on the powerful Home Affairs Select Committee about the growing number of racist allegations.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is now investigating 10 complaints of alleged racism in the Met, involving 18 officers and one member of civilian staff, while four officers have been suspended from the Police Service of Northern Ireland over allegedly racist and sectarian text messages.
The claims emerged after a young black man in east London said he had recorded a policeman racially abusing him.
Fears have been raised that such allegations are not taken seriously, after figures showed that 120 Met officers had been found guilty of race discrimination since 1999 but only one had been dismissed.
So far senior Government figures have steered clear of commenting on the claims.
But in a letter to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, the President of the National Black Police Association calls for politicians to make a stand in order to reassure the public.
Charles Crichlow wrote: “This issue has now taken on a greater national significance in terms of public trust and confidence in policing and the wider criminal justice system.
“The NBPA is absolutely clear about the need to show Leadership in this most challenging area of public engagement. I am therefore asking that you reconsider our recommendation that the Lawrence Steering Group be reconvened in order to give Leadership to a situation that is unfortunately spiralling out of control.
“I note that Prime Minister Cameron recently convened a summit at Downing Street on the issue of racism in football. I would respectfully request that our concerns be also brought to the attention of the Prime Minister in order that he may consider taking a similar leadership role in this current crisis.”
Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “I remain deeply concerned about these allegations of racism.
“The Committee is due to hold an inquiry into leadership of the police and the Met in the near future and we shall also be examining the workings of the IPCC. We will deal with the issues raised in the last few days as part of those inquiries.
“I will also be writing to HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Dennis O’Connor to ask him to look at what guidelines exist to deal with conduct and ethics of officers.”
The racism allegations represent the first crisis to confront Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met Commissioner who was appointed last September after Sir Paul Stephenson resigned over allegations over his links to a former editor of the News of the World, Neil Wallis.
Mr Hogan-Howe told his staff last week: “I wanted to take this opportunity to clearly and categorically reiterate that there is no place for racism in the Met.”
He went on: “I know that the Met has changed greatly over the years, and most of you have directly been involved in improving our relationship with all Londoners and those who visit us.
“Unfortunately just one alleged incident like this can be very damaging to public confidence.”