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How the Stephen Lawrence case changed policing

WHEN THE Macpherson report was published in February 1999, its verdict of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was damning.

Macpherson famously described the MPS as ‘institutionally racist’, a term he used to describe “the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin.”

The report’s publication prompted a shake up of how the MPS investigates hate crimes and murder, how it tries to create a more representative workforce, and how officers work with the capital’s diverse communities.

Among some of the key changes that have been introduced are dedicated Community Safety Units and specialist investigators across London to probe hate crimes, support victims and target offenders.

The last decade has also seen the creation of neighbourhood panels allowing local people to contribute to setting policing priorities for their area, the establishment of community liaison officers who work with and support specific minority ethnic communities in London, and the launch of independent advisory groups to guide police work.


A Met spokesperson said: “These measures have led to us having a better understanding of communities, while gaining crucial insight, advice and constructive criticism, enabling us to develop practices and policies more effectively, with communities now having more say and more involvement in policing than ever before.

“We have also made good progress in achieving our aim of having a workforce that better reflects London’s diverse population, with more officers from a black and minority ethnic background working in the Met than ever before. We strongly believe that increasing the diversity of our workforce has helped us to better understand and engage with the diverse communities we serve.”

But he added: “While much has been achieved since the report we are not complacent and recognise there is still much more to do. We owe that to the memory of Stephen Lawrence and the persistence by his family for justice, changes to public services and the judicial system.”

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