Sunday, March 15, 2009

Racism and the British police force - the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, 10 years on

There's been a few articles that have piqued my interest recently in the British press, about the level of institutional racism in the British police force. It relates to the inquiry 10 years ago that revealed a high level of racism permeating all levels of the force. This was after the ineffectual investigation into the racially-motivated murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, in which the five suspects were never convicted. Lawrence was waiting at a bus stop when he was set upon and stabbed by a gang of white youths. It was alleged that police corruption hindered the effective prosecution of the suspects, and that the police failed to adequately render assistance which may have saved the 19-year-old Lawrence's life.

A landmark case in British history, it was a damning indictment of the British establishment's regard for ethnic minorities.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw claimed at a conference recently that racism was no longer institutionalised in the force. Others disagree. You can also read more about the case here, while there's an interesting piece on racial identity in today's Britain here.

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