London’s Metropolitan Police will have to recruit one ethnic minority officer for every white officer they take on, according to radical plans to end accusations of racism.
Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe called for a change to the law to allow ‘positive discrimination’ and recruit more officers of black and ethnic minority origin.
Sir Bernard wants to adopt the scheme so that the force ends up “looking and feeling” like London, 40 percent of whose population is now ethnic minority.
The idea was first tried by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, when the law was temporarily changed to recruit one Catholic police officer for every Protestant officer.
A recent poll for BBC Radio London revealed that one in three Londoners still see the Metropolitan Police as “institutionally racist”.
Sir Bernard told BBC London Radio: “A third is still a very large number. I am concerned about that. I have argued for a change in the law.”
He added: “I would argue, say for five years make it 50/50, because sadly even though we’re recruiting now and we are doing well, I think about one in five of our new recruits will be from a minority.”
“But at that rate we won’t get there and I think that a 50/50 scheme for a short time would be a good idea.”
The idea has, however, led to criticism that the best candidates may be overlooked due to the colour of their skin.
The Chairman of the Met Police Federation, John Tully, told the Daily Mail: “Any discrimination is wrong, appointment should only be based on merit.”
The term “institutional racism” was first applied to the Metropolitan Police by the 1999 Macpherson Report, which was commissioned following complaints about the force’s handling of the murder of black teenage Stephen Lawrence.
The report used to the phrase to refer to “unwitting”, “unconscious” and “unintentional” racism in the police force. It said that although the force may not be guilty of overt racism, certain behaviours and ways of thinking could be construed as racist, even if they were not intended to be. The definition of “racism” would be left to the person making the complaint.
Since then, the Metropolitan Police have struggled to shake off this reputation.