The commitment of Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe of the Metropolitan Police Service to tackling racism is being called into question, as sources within the MPS have provided evidence that he had previously reinstated a police officer accused of racism.
There is already widespread disenchantment from Met police officers who are desperate to challenge the racism of their colleagues but who doubt the commitment of senior officers, including the Commissioner to take real action.
While he was an Assistant Commissioner with the MPS, Commissioner Hogan-Howe overturned a decision to sack a police traffic officer (who had been reported by a fellow officer) for racially abusing a black man whilst on traffic patrol in London.
It is said that having been overtaken by a black man with dreadlocks the officer forced the man to stop before delivering a volley of racist abuse. The man was not arrested or charged with any offence. A fellow officer in the police car at the time was so shocked by the severity of the abuse that he reported the incident to his senior officers.
At a subsequent internal disciplinary hearing the officer was found guilty and it was recommended that he be sacked with immediate effect.
The officer appealed against the decision and that appeal was then heard by the then Assistant Commissioner Hogan-Howe.
He overturned that decision citing the fact that although the officer had some 15 years in the job he had not had any ‘race relations’ training.
With the Commissioner having responded to recent cases highlighting the racist behaviour of his officers by setting out his total commitment to opposing racism, this case will call into question that commitment.
Commissioner Hogan-Howe recently made public his commitment to tackling racism within the police service. He stated: “I will not stand for any racism or racists.”
“We have a duty to challenge or report any behaviour by colleagues which is less than the high standard demanded by the service and Londoners themselves,” he said. “You cannot avoid that duty. Nor can I.”
That commitment must now be called into question as a result of what appears to be his personal decision to overturn the decision taken by fellow officers to sack the PC concerned.
Questions need to be asked about how many MPS officers found guilty of racism through the MPS disciplinary process have been subsequently reinstated.
Further there must be full disclosure of how many times similar decisions were personally taken by Commissioner Hogan-Howe whilst employed at the MPS and as Chief Constable for Merseyside.
With the MPS in the grip of a ‘race crisis’ this new evidence will seriously call into question the Commissioner’s personal and professional commitment to tackle racism in the MPS.
With the trust and confidence of London communities rocked by recent revelations and a now growing crisis of confidence of officers within the Met the situation is becoming critical.
This is just one of a series of cases not yet in the public domain that will emerge over the coming weeks, that is bound to further damage the beleaguered reputation of the MPS with Londoners.
By Lee Jasper