Dame Cressida Dick assured Londoners that racist officers will be sacked and promised to ‘strain every sinew’ to hit a target for 40% of new recruits to be from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) from 2022.
The Met said new recruits will be taught the history of local areas they will police and will learn the importance of ‘cultural awareness’ during stop and search training, including ‘scenario-based role play’.
Dame Cressida said she felt ‘very sorry’ that trust for police officers among black communities in the capital is so low and admitted: ‘We need to do more to show people that we have zero tolerance of racism.’
‘There are over 40,000 people in the Metropolitan Police Service and I have always said we are not free of racism, we are not free of bias or discrimination,’ she said.
Figures show black people are almost four times more likely to be stopped and searched in the street than white people in London. They are also six times more likely to be stopped in their vehicles, according to City Hall.
Dame Cressida’s comments came as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for an immediate review of stop and search and the use of Taser, as part of a plan to address concerns over tactics affecting black Londoners.
Mr Khan’s plan also aims to ensure officers are not relying on the smell of cannabis alone when deciding to stop and search a person, with such incidents subjected to ‘London-wide scrutiny panels’.
He has asked the Met to launch a year-long pilot scheme looking at samples to identify any disproportionality relating to ethnicity.
Speaking outside Brixton police station, in south London, on Friday, Dame Cressida said the Met is working with Mr Khan and agrees with about 98% of his plan.
She announced an immediate return of a London residency requirement for most new recruits, meaning they will have to have lived in the capital for three of the past six years.
‘I think it’s good for London and Londoners that the police service reflects and understands London,’ she said.
In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests that took place across the capital and many parts of the UK in May, the Met faced accusations of racial profiling following a series of incidents filmed and shared on social media.
The most high profile was when Team GB athlete Bianca Williams and her Portuguese sprinter boyfriend, Ricardo Dos Santos, were pulled over and handcuffed in front of their baby in west London in July.
Five officers are being investigated for misconduct after footage of the incident was shared widely on Twitter having been posted by former Olympic medallist Linford Christie.
The protests, which were sparked following the death of George Floyd who was killed after a police officer kneeled on his neck in Minneapolis, saw UK protesters calling for an end to systemic racism – particularly in the police force.
Dame Cressida described Mr Floyd’s death as ‘utterly awful’ but insisted UK policing is ‘entirely different’.
She added: ‘I know there is more for us to do to gain the confidence of all of our communities.’
‘I want all of our communities to trust the Met, I want the Met to be the most trusted police service in the world,’ she said.
‘But sometimes things go wrong and we do, as you will see, where people have been thoroughly negligent, if they have been, or if this is an event where somebody has been badly injured because policing involves using force, then the Independent Office for Police Conduct will do their investigation, they will come to their conclusions and you see that officers, for example, I’m not talking about the videos we have seen this summer, but officers, for example, that display racism are sacked.
‘That’s what we do and quite right to.’
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