Socialist Worker

Policing the black police

by Hassan Mahamdallie
Issue No. 1784

So who's got it in for the Black Police Association (BPA)? The BPA is a moderate body. It was formed in 1993 to give black police officers and civilian staff a voice against the rampant discrimination built into the profession.

It caused a stir during the Stephen Lawrence inquiry when it had the nerve to point out that the force was institutionally racist. This didn't exactly make the BPA flavour of the month with the police. Things have been happening to key members of the BPA recently. You might mistake it for a vendetta.

In the wake of the Lawrence report the high-flying vice-chair of the BPA, Chief Inspector Ali Dazaei, was hailed in the press as the new successful black face of the 'anti-racist' police. However, a year on Dazaei, of Iranian origin, was still criticising the way in which black officers were clearly blocked from promotion.

Not long after, the Metropolitan Police's anti-corruption unit went to Scotland Yard and said they had received allegations that Dazaei had been dishonest. Met chief Sir John Stevens allowed them to undertake a secret investigation of Dazaei-including 'intrusive surveillance'.

A team called 'Operation Helios' was set up. A year ago Dazaei was suspended from duty. His house was raided and thoroughly searched, and his computer was taken away. I don't know the truth of the allegations, but it seems a rather large hammer to crack a rather small nut. Six months later the costly investigation seemed to have run into the sand.

But then Dazaei was arrested, held for 15 hours and, in a totally new charge, accused of fiddling his expenses at the BPA by £300.

The BPA stood by him. In its latest annual report it bitterly points out, 'There were more officers and other resources incorporated in his case than in the initial investigation of Stephen Lawrence's murder.'

While this was going on, the BPA chair, Chief Inspector Leroy Logan MBE, found himself in the stocks. He was accused of fiddling £80 of expenses. He had booked into a hotel room as part of his BPA duties, but had mistakenly claimed the expenses off the Met. As soon as he realised his error he repaid the money.

Too late. He was suspended and an investigation was launched. Earlier this month he was cleared of any charge, criminal or otherwise. The investigation cost an estimated £1 million, and will probably cost much more after the case has gone to an industrial tribunal. Logan was cleared a day after the damning report into the unbelievable treatment of Sergeant Gurpal Virdi was released.

This longstanding Asian officer had made himself unpopular after he had criticised his colleagues for not taking a racist attack seriously. Soon after this two racist letters were sent to officers and staff at Virdi's West London station. Virdi, to his horror (he had received the letters too), found himself accused of being the racist perpetrator.

He was sacked after an internal trial. But Virdi was not guilty. Incontrovertible evidence shows that he couldn't possibly have sent the hate mail. We know this after three years of investigation and an employment tribunal that awarded him £150,000 of taxpayers' money. No officers are being investigated.

'Why should we care what happens to black police officers?' you ask. Because if that's how the police treat 'their own', just think how they are dealing with Britain's black community.

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Sat 26 Jan 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1784
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