Press Association, Guardian, Jun. 14
Diversity training for police officers may have driven discrimination underground and created a new breed of “stealth racist”, an official report said today.
An interim study by the Commission For Racial Equality (CRE) produced evidence that many officers treated race and diversity awareness as “a big joke” and that black and Asian recruits were excluded from a dominant culture of heavy drinking.
It also uncovered a “disturbing racial pattern” in recruitment which saw more black and Asian than white candidates rejected on race and diversity grounds.
Home Office data showed 42% of Chinese applicants to the police were rejected on the grounds of “respect for race and diversity”. Similarly, 34% of black and 33% of Asian applicants were rejected, compared with 23% of their white counterparts.
The report, headed by former director of public prosecutions Sir David Calvert-Smith QC, said: “The precise reasons for this disturbing racial pattern need to be determined, and the assessment methods and scoring systems examined more closely.”
In initial evidence gathered by the CRE, some ethnic minority recruits spoke of a dominant bar culture which they felt “reinforced macho and anti-diversity attitudes”, particularly excluding teetotallers.
“One informant suggested that the training was helping to create a new phenomenon, the ‘stealth racist’, who learned how to remain undetected by the emphasis on what terminology to use and not use.
“One Asian Muslim officer had usually been the one left without a partner when the odd-numbered and otherwise all-white class split into pairs, and had had curry splashed on his bedroom door,” said the report.
One trainee reported an instructor at a police training college telling the class: “You’ve done the diversity. That’s a load of balls. Now let’s get on with the real stuff.”
It was also reported that many police officers did not understand the term “institutional racism”, as defined by the Macpherson report into the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.
Indeed, the CRE investigated one officer who claimed never to have heard of the Lawrence report. “Evidence taken from these groups and individuals suggests that many trainers were unconfident, uncommitted or even hostile to diversity,” it added.
“Institutional racism remained widely misunderstood after the training, and was seen as a smear on the police service which was resented and so constrained the effectiveness of further training.”
This evidence also suggested that training managers had only paid “lip service” to diversity, the report said.