Sir Ian Blair, former Metropolitan Commissioner, has criticised the Government and Metropolitan Police Service for failure to tackle racism.
Writing in the New Statesman Sir Ian Blair highlights what he considers to be near silence by the coalition Government on issues of race equality and racial integration. He accuses the current Home Secretary and Trevor Phillips, head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, of being virtually silent on addressing the issue of the disproportionate impact of public sector cuts on vulnerable communities.
Blair’s comments echoes serious concerns expressed by a coalition of Black and women’s organisations that has warned the Government about its failure to complete Equality Impact Assessment on intended public sector cuts and their likely disproportionate impact on Black people and women.
In relation to the police service Blair rejects the claim made by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson that the Metropolitan Police Service is no longer institutionally racist. The discredited Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) Race and Faith Inquiry report published over a year late and in an attempt to bury bad news published cynically on the anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings has been mired in controversy. Sir Ian Blair states in his article that the acceptance by the MPA of Boris Johnson claim that “Met was no longer institutionally racist” was wrong.
Sir Ian said:
“I believe that the MPA was wrong to do so. The Met is, without doubt, still affected by institutional racism, as are almost all British institutions, and will be for years to come. Despite all the agonies they have faced in progressing up the ranks, there are now a number of Black and Asian senior police officers in Britain. But there are not enough.”
These comments chime with those made by former Director for Policing and Equalities Lee Jasper who writing about the publication of the report at the time wrote on his website;
“However when one reads the report in forensic detail it is clear the panel does not reach any such specific conclusion [re: institutional racism].
“Boris quite brazenly states in his forward to the report I welcome Cindy Butts finding that the Met is not institutionally racist”.
“The Inquiry Panel did accept that term ‘institutional racism’ was problematic but concluded that whilst the term was not helpful the reality was the Met was still an ‘institutionally racist’ organisation.”
That a figure such as Sir Ian Blair should point out the Government has effectively sidelined issues of race and that the MPS, despite the claims of Mayor Boris Johnson, is still institutionally racist will no doubt be rejected however there is growing momentum behind those who criticise Governments failure to seriously address issues of race and gender equality.