Socialist Worker

Police officer explains how racism row shakes the Met

by Rajendra Joshi, police sergeant
Issue No. 2108

Shocking news was released last week that Assistant Commissioner Tariq Ghaffur, Britain’s most senior ranking black police officer, was preparing papers alleging race discrimination against the Metropolitan Police and its commissioner Sir Ian Blair.

The allegations are astonishingly timed. Tariq Ghaffur is the most senior Muslim officer in this country and it is widely known that he objects to the policy of 42 days detention of terror suspects – something that Ian Blair supports.

Blair is also currently awaiting the outcome of the coroner’s case in relation to the 2005 police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station.

It is almost ten years since the publication of the Macpherson Report into the police’s investigation of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.


The report was damning in its criticisms of institutional racism in the police.

The Muslim Police Association has called for a review of the implementation of the recommendations of the Macpherson Report. The National Black Police Association has also recently claimed that its members are subject to institutional racism. ?

The wranglings in the Metropolitan Police should send a chilling message about the manner in which anti-racism has been systematically dismantled within police forces, and the real lack of commitment given to tackling racism post-Macpherson.

While it might be morally right to challenge racism in society, there is nothing to be gained in being a black colleague and sticking one’s head above the parapet at the lowest ranks.

On the contrary, broad denial and academic liberalism have created a “cloak” around the subject, where those at the top do not hold people accountable.

We have seen that it is possible to be officially in favour of “diversity” without actually being committed to anti-racism.

There is a difference between being a liberal and being anti-racist. 

Tariq Ghaffur’s claims come as London has just hosted the 90th birthday celebrations for Nelson Mandela. As black people we may have tolerated the racial jibes of the 1960s and 1970s, and the physical abuse of the 1980s, but we could not tolerate the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and others.

Today racism hides beneath post-Macpherson liberalism.

It must be challenged.

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Article information

Tue 1 Jul 2008, 18:49 BST
Issue No. 2108
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