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Black police end recruitment boycott

Black police officers ended a 15-month recruitment boycott today, expressing hope that a “new era” would bring more equality to London’s police.

By Lester Holloway

The move comes after an agreement was struck between the Metropolitan Black Police Association (Met BPA) and Scotland Yard to give the force’s diversity department the power to launch race inspections.

Black officers still have concerns about disproportionate use of DNA harvesting, stop and search tactics, and the fact that their members are more likely to be disciplined than white colleagues.

Alfred John, chair of the Met BPA, said that the force was still affected by institutional racism but there was now an opportunity to work on solutions.

The Met BPA’s recruitment boycott began October 2008 after Met assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur was suspended when he sued the force over racism, and because of the suspension of Hounslow commander Ali Dizaei.

John (pictured above, left, with Dizaei) told OBV Blog that the boycott has now been called off “because they’ve learnt to stop making excuses for lack of progress. The Met have had no choice but to acknowledge the reality.”

Denise Milani

The news was welcomed by Simon Woolley, head of Operation Black Vote, who said he hoped the new era was not a false dawn but that “real and sustained progress can be made.”

London mayor Boris Johnson failed to end the boycott in September last year, but a breakthrough in relations between the Yard and the Met BPA was finally brokered by deputy commissioner Tim Godwin.

Godwin has empowered the Met’s director of diversity Denise Milani (pictured left) to launch investigations into racism wherever she considers it necessary.

The decision is almost certain to lead to new investigations after it emerged that allegations of racism and bullying against Black officers has rocketed since 2008 when senior officer Paul Stephenson publicly told Ghaffur to “shut up” and stop making claims of racism.

Stephenson, who later took over from Sir Ian Blair as police commissioner for London, is not thought to have played a significant part in the thawing of relations with the Met BPA.

In a statement earlier today John said: “There is still much work to be done in regard to the issues of race both internally and in terms of service delivery, however, we must seize the moment and look forward to working with MPS Management Board colleagues to drive these changes – it requires a genuine desire for change.”

Woolley responded to the developments, saying: “We welcome their confidence in the new era within the police force that gives black members a platform to do their job to the best of their ability.

“We supported their stance on the boycott because they’ve been on the front line of continual discrimination, with some members particularly bearing the brunt. Let’s hope this new era is not a false dawn and that real and sustained progress can be made.”

Although the Met BPA have ended their recruitment boycott, John told OBV Blog that black officers were still boycotting the Yard’s “samurai” committee over complaints that it was not holding the human resources department, led by Martin Tiplady, to account over disproportionate rates of Black officers being disciplined.

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