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

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”.

Sajid Javid in Brixton
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.

“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.

The Macpherson report published 10 years ago
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’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.”