Metropolitan Service’s investigation

Evaluate the importance of reforms made to the CJS by Sir William Macpherson in 1999 report into the Metropolitan Service's investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The Macpherson report is regarded by many as a defining moment in British race relations. The report by Sir William Macpherson followed an inquiry into the Metropolitan Police's investigation of the murder of a black teenager, Stephen Lawrence. The 18-year-old A-Level student was fatally stabbed by a gang of white racists, as he waited for a bus in South London in 1993. The London Metropolitan Police failed to convict the killers.

My objectives are to assess the importance and outcomes of some of the major key reforms established by Macpherson and to discuss how, if at all, the Criminal Justice Service has changed since the report was published in February 1999. The Macpherson Report into the Stephen Lawrence case contains seventy key recommendations for society to show "zero tolerance" for racism. It concluded that the police investigation was sabotaged by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism, and corruption. Sir William Macpherson suggests sweeping reforms to tackle these.

He demands radical changes in the legal and judicial system and amendments to the other public bodies too, such as the local government, civil service, the NHS and schools' National Curriculum if the recommendations are to be implemented successfully. One of Macpherson's central aims was that police forces should publicly reassure their commitment to investing in good community relations as a core function of policing. He planned to do this in the report by proposing some changes in the law and Criminal Justice System, which I will now discuss.

He showed how the conduct of the police was influenced by what is called 'institutional racism'. He defines this as 'The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin' (Macpherson, 1999) This shows how racial prejudice and discrimination is generated by the way an organisation functions as a whole, as opposed to individual members, as Lord Scarman described as 'a few rotten apples in a barrel…

' Macpherson attempted to apply the concept in more depth compared to the Scarman report of 1981, the result of an earlier major inquiry into the state of relations between the police and ethnic communities. However, Macpherson failed to locate the roots of institutional racism within the structure of the police service and ethnic communities. The result was that he missed a major opportunity to spell out a policy agenda, which given time, may ultimately have eliminated racist policing.

The result of this reform was a 15-point plan put forward by the Metropolitan Police designed to tackle institutional racism. This would be achieved by the recruitment of more ethnic minority officers. Both Scarman and Macpherson called for an increased recruitment, retention and progression of ethnic minority officers having noted that in 1981, Black officers constituted 0. 5 per cent of the Metropolitan police force.

The proportion of minority officers currently stands at 3.3 per cent, a figure still dwarfed in comparison to the 25. 5 per cent of ethnic minority residents in London. The government reacted to this recommendation by pledging to increase the number of officers from ethnic groups from around 2,500 to 8,000 by the year 2009. But a survey carried out on the second anniversary of the Macpherson report revealed only 155 new officers from ethnic minority had been recruited in the past year compared to an increase of 261 in the year following the report.