Racially motivated crime

Providing sustainable change for the benefit of all sections of London's community will remain one of priorities for the foreseable future. The police service as with all other organisations needs to be able to measure to effectiveness of the changes it has implemented. The next challenge will be the ability to demonstrate that institutational racism has been effectively eliminated within the metropolitan police service. When change I implemented you have to take into consideration, the change from perspective of those who are directly affected.

This is because the people have to develop new skills, be transferred, regarded and retained. When people are racists usually this is because they have been taught to be racist from their surrounding environment. This is a belief that people have, which means that to change them you have to change their beliefs. People are usually resistance to change when it is being forced on them. The police have to be careful how they implement these changes, in many cases important information that should not be ignored. People most often resist change not because they are naturally lazy but for very pragmatic reasons.

The change effort might yield inadequate consequences for their work processes. As regards the understanding of racism Scarman left an ambiguous legacy. He drew attention to the problem of police racism but in doing so he defined institutional racism only as overt racist policy consciously pursued by an institution. He thereby rendered it of marginal relevance to an understanding of the British situation. He confirmed the focus of policy, in the police as in other public bodies, as that of the elimination of the racism of prejudiced individuals. Yet, as Macpherson notes (6.7)

Scarman's view of the types of racism was not exhausted by the prejudiced individual on the one hand and the overt policy of institutions on the other. Lord Scarman responded to the suggestion that ``Britain is an institutionally racist society,'' in this way:- An inquiry into the conduct of a single murder investigation by its very nature involves a focus on the actions of individual police officers, how they treated suspects, witnesses, relatives of the victim etc. In such a context, even it can be concluded that ``there was a `collective failure' of a group of officers to provide an appropriate and professional service...

'' (44. 11), they remain a particular group engaging in actions not shared by all officers. It is difficult in such a context, particularly where other factors such as professional incompetence and failure of leadership are also seen (46. 1) to be important ingredients, to distinguish institutionalised from individual racism, or racism from incompetence. For example one of the indications of institutional racism used by Macpherson was the failure to characterise the Lawrence murder as a racist crime.

Yet 50 percent of officers involved (19. 35) including the Senior Investigating Officers (19. 38) characterised the incident precisely in such terms. At the level of the actions of some individuals rather than others the institutional dimension is necessarily backgrounded. To establish the latter it would be necessary to survey a series of such inquiries and look for patterns of behaviour which could then be located in the patterns of institutional operation. Macpherson was obviously not in a position to conduct this type of research.

However, as will hopefully emerge in the discussion which follows, the most important problem is that even where Macpherson focuses more clearly on the police institution rather than the actions of individual officers he locates the source of racism in the social and cultural life of police officers rather than in the dyamics of operational policing itself. From the information above you can see that any changes that the police force implement following the McPherson report cannot be implemented on the police force as a whole as not all of the police officers are racist and they will be effected by the changes.

The police force is a very big organisation and the effects of the Stephan Lawrence case has had a big impact. The reputation of the police has been damaged which in turn the reputation of every police officer has been effected. The police have to deal with the racism in the police force from the first stages of recruitment they should divise a process in which racist people are identified in the recuiment process and therefore they wont get into the police force and racism will not problem within the police force.

Prejudice is something into which individuals are socialised rather than which they bring to the organisation from outside. The issue then is to identify precisely what it is about the day to day work of the police institution which generates and sustains an occupational culture supportive of racism. The key factor identified by Macpherson is the particular forms of contact between police and various sections of the public. This theme was stressed in testimony by an officer speaking on behalf of the Black Police Association (quoted at 6.28)

Given the fact that... predominantly white officers only meet members of the black community in confrontational situations, they tend to stereotype black people in general. This can lead to all sorts of negative views and assumptions about black people, so we should not underestimate the occupational culture within the police service as being a primary source of institutional racism in the way that we differentially treat black people. ''