The Guardian today published an article indicating that between April 2014 and March 2015 the Metropolitan Police faced 245 complaints of racial discrimination, and found no case to answer for any of them. This means that in none of those cases did the investigating officer think that his/her accused colleague had acted in an inappropriate manner. Even in the case of the three officers from Greenwich, and the two from Lewisham, who had four complaints of racial discrimination made against them in a single year alone, no disciplinary action has taken place.
This article was based on an investigation carried out by the London Campaign Against Police and State Violence. We were appalled – but not surprised – by this data, and do not expect anybody else to be. We knew what we would find before we even started. This is because, under the current system of police oversight, local forces are allowed – indeed expected – to investigate themselves. In the few cases where the IPCC are involved in the investigation, they generally play a hand’s-off role, supervising or managing local investigations, rather than undertaking them themselves. In any case, we know we can expect little from the IPCC when they are overwhelmingly staffed with former police officers. This is not a situation that can ever lead to justice or transparency.
Not mentioned in the Guardian article are the results of complaints about other forms of discrimination: based on religion, gender, sexuality, mental health, age, disability. Though the dataset is more limited (fewer people made complaints according to these categories), the outcome of these complaints makes for equally bleak reading. In one sole instance across all these categories has any officer been found to have a case to answer (mental health, Kensington and Chelsea). And even in this single case, the Metropolitan Police admit that no action was taken against the officer in question.
We think that the Metropolitan Police now have urgent and unavoidable questions to answer about the integrity and purpose of their complaints process. Given the likelihood of action being taken in response to complaints of discrimination is next to nothing, who is the complaints system serving? Given we don’t allow criminals to investigate themselves for crimes of which they are accused, why should we allow police to investigate themselves? Given even senior officers in the force admit the police as a whole is institutionally racist, how are they possibly best qualified to judge themselves on this question? Why, then, do we continue allow the police to investigate themselves? It is time that we take the powers of investigation out of their hands, and put it back in the hands of the communities that are most effected by the rotten system of more or less explicit racism, violence, and state endorsed coercion that the police preside over.
You can find the full data and breakdown here:
Discrimination Complaints Mar14-Feb15