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Met racism claims justified - chief

Published 05/06/2015

There is some justification to claims that the Met is institutionally racist, said its commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
There is some justification to claims that the Met is institutionally racist, said its commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe

The head of the Metropolitan Police has said there is "some justification" to allegations that the force is institutionally racist.

Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said Scotland Yard had to take the accusations "on the chin".

During an interview in the first episode of a documentary series on the Met, Sir Bernard said: "If other people think we are institutionally racist, then we are.

"It's no good me saying we're not and saying you must believe me. (That would be) a nonsense, if they believe that."

He went on: "You're very much more likely to be stopped and searched if you're a young black man.

"I can't explain that fully. I can give you reasons but I can't fully explain it. So there is some justification."

Sir Bernard, who is Britain's most senior police officer, claimed society as a whole was "institutionally racist".

He said: "I don't think people often understand what the term means.

"It's a label but in some sense there is a truth there for some people and we've got to accept that.

"I think society is institutionally racist. You see lack of representation in many fields of which the police are one, from judges, to doctors, to journalists, to editors, to governments."

Speaking to reporters after the advance screening, Sir Bernard said "we just have to take it on the chin" when people claim the force is racist.

The first of the five-part series, named The Met: Policing London, will be shown on BBC One at 9pm on Monday.

The documentary makers were given comprehensive access to the force from September 2013 to September 2014.

This coincided with the inquest into the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot and killed by police in Tottenham, north London in August 2011, sparking riots.

Film crews recorded anxious high-level meetings at Scotland Yard as preparations were made for the possibility of civil disorder following the conclusion of the inquest.

The programme features Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa, who was brought in as borough commander for Haringey following Mr Duggan's death.

After the inquest he is shown talking to protesters outside Tottenham Police Station who question whether he was only appointed because he is black.

Mr Olisa later reveals he receives more of a "battering" in Haringey than he did when he was borough commander in Bexley, where there was a significant number of British National Party supporters.

He said: "I have got a colleague who works in an adjoining borough who is Jewish and the Jewish community embrace him with open arms.

"I work in a borough with a sizeable number of black African community and I get more battering here than I did when I was working in a borough where there was a sizeable number of BNP people.

"It boils down to race."

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