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Watchdog finds Met ‘insufficiently’ handling race complaints

ON DUTY: Race complaints against officers is "not been sufficiently handled" says an IPCC report (PA)

LONDON POLICE are showing a “general unwillingness or inability” to effectively process complaints made against allegedly racist officers, according to a new report.

The study carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) analysed complaints received by the Metropolitan Police – the report was commissioned in April 2012 after several high-profile race related incidents.

Having examined over 60 referrals made over law enforcement racism between April 1 and May 31 2012, and reviewing statistics of all complaints in 2011-12, the police watchdog concluded they “were not handled in a sufficiently robust, fair or customer-focused way.”

The IPCC also called for a “cultural change” in how the Met deals with such complaints, including addressing its training, monitoring and community feedback.

Jennifer Izekor, IPCC commissioner, said: “In general there is an unwillingness or inability to deal with these complaints robustly and effectively.

“Too often, complaints are dismissed without proper investigation or resolution, complainants are not properly engaged with, and lessons are not learnt.

She added: “It can exacerbate a negative experience if the racial element is not properly addressed. It can also mean that officers are not held to account, or do not learn from their actions.

“We know that there is less confidence both in policing and in the complaints system among BME communities.

“If the Met is serious about building that confidence, there will need to be a cultural change to complaints handling.”

Specifically, the report found “little evidence of efforts to explore allegations of racial discrimination with the complainant, or understanding of covert racism”.

Also, the watchdog said the “quality of investigations was in general poor and little or no account was taken of IPCC guidance, especially where complaints were dealt with at borough level”.

In addition, it said the force failed to make significant effort “to look beyond an officer’s denial” when investigating a racism allegation.

In reaction to the highly critical report, the Met’s assistant commissioner Simon Byrne acknowledged the force should be “less defensive and accept when we are not performing as well as we should be”.

He said: “I am calling in all 32 Borough Commanders and senior officers from other specialist units so we can study this report in detail and deliver real change in this important area.

“We will bring complainants to that meeting - those with both positive and negative experiences – to help our understanding and give us the human voice behind the figures.”

However, Byrne stood up for the Met’s general conduct, and cited its use of stop and search as an example of its ability to change.

He added: “The vast majority of our employees act with the professionalism and high standards we demand – but, if we do not tackle those that fall below this standard then we will all be judged on the appalling behaviour of a few.

“The progress made in reducing stop and search and making it more proportionate shows we can change and I am determined we take those lessons forward in other areas such as complaint handling.”

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