Scotland Yard’s claims to have put its racist past behind it suffered a blow yesterday when it was alleged that senior officers allowed a “culture of apartheid” at a police station where white officers threatened black colleagues and refused to ride in the same van.
The allegations will be heard at an employment tribunal tomorrow and will embarrass the force, whose head, Sir Paul Stephenson, yesterday said the Metropolitan police was no longer institutionally racist. He was speaking at a conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the Macpherson report into the bungled Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.
The allegations of discrimination and victimisation to be heard at a tribunal this week – which the Met will deny – centre on Belgravia police station in central London. A Muslim police community support officer (PCSO), Asad Saeed, claims white officers framed him by alleging he had abused and threatened to assault a drunk vagrant in a McDonald’s burger restaurant in central London.
The officer was ordered to be dismissed, but later reinstated on appeal. Both of the internal police discipline hearings heard allegations of racism that Scotland Yard thought belonged to the canteen culture of two decades ago.
Alfred John, chair of the Metropolitan branch of the Black Police Association, said: “It displays all the hallmarks of a very familiar and disturbing picture.”
Saeed’s MP, George Galloway, said: “It is quite clear there was a culture of overt racism in the station which was tolerated, if not encouraged, by senior management. Asad was wrongly dismissed from the police service.”
Update: See “Police played ‘spot the black officer in the dark’, tribunal hears”, Guardian, 2 March 2009
Update 2: See “Police community support officer Asad Saeed loses discrimination case”, Times, 29 October 2009