Scotland Yard, which has struggled to recover from accusations of “institutional racism” made in an official report more than a decade ago, has been thrust into the centre of yet another race row following a flood of complaints of “racist bullying” and violence.
Nine officers and one staff members have been suspended and a total of 20 are being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over allegations of a range of racist abuse, including physical assault. More are likely to be referred to the IPCC after an ongoing internal review.
The unprecedented mass action was triggered by the release of a recording of a police officer using a racist term to describe an Afro-Caribbean youth arrested over his suspected role in last summer's riots in London. The 21-year-old man, whose identity has not been disclosed, secretly filmed the police officer on his mobile phone racially abusing him.
He said he was “devastated” and wanted “justice”.
“Hearing that [abuse] from a police officer, it just came out of nowhere. They were saying I'm going to die soon. They used the horriblest words,” he said describing it as “the worst experience of my life”.
“Words cannot describe how it feels to have all of them people against you and you can't do nothing,” he added.
Within hours, another footage emerged of an officer kicking an African teenager in East London.
Both incidents happened the same day last August as the police led a crackdown against suspected rioters.
Head of Scotland Yard, Bernard Hogan-Howe, said he was “shocked” by the allegations. “I will not stand for any racism or racists,” he said amid calls for a broader investigation into the scale of racist conduct within the force.
“We need a broader investigation to reassure people that this is not a cultural problem within the Met which has led to these police officers believing they could get away with such despicable behaviour,” said Keith Vaz, Labour MP and chairman of Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee.