U.K. police face racism probe

LONDON Nov.1. A decade after an official inquiry found the British police "institutionally racist'', another full-scale investigation into allegations of racism has been announced following a shocking BBC documentary which secretly filmed young police officers openly abusing Asians and blacks and boasting that they got a kick out of harassing them.

Trevor Phillips, Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), said confidence in the police had been "severely shaken'' by the report, "The Secret Policeman'', and the revelations warranted an independent and `transparent' inquiry.

Mr. Phillips dismissed assurances from senior police figures that the issue was being addressed and rejected the argument that it was simply a case of a "few bad apples'' giving the entire police force a bad name. "We have been here before and we have made the same mistake before. The biggest is to suppose that this is a case of a few bad apples that will be solved by some dismissals and more or better training. It isn't,'' he said.

Five young police officers have resigned and three have been suspended since the

The report provoked shock from the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, downwards. The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, who accused the BBC of staging a "stunt to get attention'', has been forced to acknowledge it as an eye-opener.

One senior police officer said he felt "physically sick'' after seeing the programme.

One recruit was seen wearing an improvised Ku Klux Klan hood and simulating an attack on an Asian colleague. He gleefully boasted how he routinely stopped and searched Asians and blacks, handing them on-the-spot fines and penalties while letting off whites for the same offences. Mr. Blair said that "anyone, including any police officer, with the best interests of the police service will have been shocked and appalled at some of the scenes we have witnessed''.

The chief of metropolitan police, John Stevens, said he was "absolutely appalled'' and promised a more rigorous screening process.

Mr. Phillips said the inquiry would cover 43 police forces in England and Wales and would be held partly in public. It would focus on recruitment, training and vetting procedures which the BBC programme has shown to be inadequate.

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