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Stephen Lawrence inquiry has defined my generation of policing, says Met chief

But Commissioner Cressida Dick said she does not believe her force is institutionally racist.

Stephen Lawrence was murdered in south-east London in 1993 (Family handout/PA)
Stephen Lawrence was murdered in south-east London in 1993 (Family handout/PA)

Britain’s most senior police officer has said the legacy of Stephen Lawrence will not be forgotten 20 years on from a damning report that branded the Metropolitan Police institutionally racist.

Commissioner Cressida Dick said the 1999 Macpherson Report into the aftermath of the black teenager’s murder had “defined my generation of policing”.

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Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said the 1999 Macpherson Report into the aftermath of Stephen Lawrence’s murder had “defined my generation of policing”(Gareth Fuller/PA)

Currently 14% of Met officers are from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds – this is 16% among PCs, then less than 10% for higher ranks, up to chief officers where the proportion is 4%.

BAME officers and staff are more likely to resign from the force or raise grievances, and the Met’s HR department found that it would take 100 years to match the proportions of the population of London if it continued to recruit at current rates.

Ms Dick said she does not believe the force is institutionally racist.

This is an utterly different Metropolitan Police Met Commissioner Cressida Dick

“I simply don’t see it as a helpful or accurate description.

“This is an utterly different Metropolitan Police.”

Stephen was murdered by a gang of racists while waiting for a bus in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993.

The bungled initial investigation into his death was hampered by claims of racism, corruption and incompetence, and it took nearly 20 years for two of his five or six killers to finally be brought to justice.

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Cressida Dick paid tribute to Stephen’s parents, Neville and Doreen Lawrence (Michael Stephens/PA)

Ms Dick paid tribute to Stephen’s parents, Baroness (Doreen) Lawrence and Neville Lawrence, whom she said had fought “absolutely tirelessly” for justice for their son.

She said: “The Stephen Lawrence public inquiry has defined my generation of policing. It’s very hard to think of any other one event which has made such a big impact on policing.

We are ambitious for the future, we are not going to forget Stephen or his legacy Met Commissioner Cressida Dick

“We’re not at all complacent. London keeps on changing and there are lots of challenges for us in policing it well and giving the best possible service to all our communities.

“We are ambitious for the future, we are not going to forget Stephen or his legacy and we will continue to educate our officers about why it is that this police service does what it does now, and how that comes from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.”

The force’s head of HR, Clare Davies, said: “For many the progress is too slow.

“Some would say that we need to do more than we have done, particularly in terms of our recruitment and representation.

“If we continue, even with the great progress we’ve made, it would take over 100 years to be representative of London.”

The force wants to boost recruitment of BAME officers to 35% within the next year, which would mean another 250 officers per year.

The Met admitted last year that it had no new leads in the investigation into Stephen’s murder.

The Met doesn’t forget big, significant, egregious cases and there couldn’t be a more significant stain on our country than this case

The Met doesn't forget big, significant, egregious cases and there couldn't be a more significant stain on our country than this case Met Commissioner Cressida Dick

Ms Dick said “a small handful” of officers remain working on the case.

“We are constantly on the alert for any changes in information and intelligence and technical possibilities,” she said.

“It’s a small team, that’s all we need at the moment, but if and when we get a really significant breakthrough then obviously we would scale it straight up.

“The Met doesn’t forget big, significant, egregious cases and there couldn’t be a more significant stain on our country than this case.”

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