Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Support Kanja Ibrahim Sesay's candidacy for the President of the NUS

I urge all people to support Kanja Ibrahim Sesay's candidacy for the President of the NUS. He is an outstanding candidate who I support and commend to you. Please like his campaign page and offer support to his campaign if you can.

Lee Jasper

Kanja Ibrahim Sesay #1 for NUS National President
Kanja Ibrahim Sesay
Kanja Ibrahim Sesay #1 for NUS National President


The Tories are continuing to unleash the greatest assault on students and ordinary people that has ever been seen. The slashing of the Education Maintenance Allowance, trebling of HE tuition fees and creeping tide of marketisation in education is set against a backdrop of savage government attacks against public sector workers, women, Black people, LGBT communities, disabled people and the majority of society. Youth unemployment is up and our prospects are down.

The cuts agenda is motivated by a vicious ideology based on the interests of the few not the many. It is certainly not because there is a lack of money on “our national credit card”, as it has been crudely put. By driving up profits for big businesses, the Tories are driving down the living standards of students and ordinary people. We need to stand firmly in our belief of promoting investment not cuts to make the economic arguments for growth, employment and social justice.

Just as the government does not lack the resources to change its priorities, nor does NUS. Our national union could, and should, lead an uncompromising and massive fight against the Tory-led coalition starting now. It is not enough for us to wait until 2015 to try and influence whatever new government comes into power. It didn’t work last time, and it will not work again. NUS must lead a movement involving FE and HE students’ unions, the trade unions, the Liberation Campaigns and all those involved in campaigning against cuts.

I have led the NUS Black Students’ Campaign for the last two years against all fees and cuts. I am a proud advocate of the 99% movement and believe NUS needs to join the progressive majority campaigning for people and planet before profit. I have fully supported the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the Education Activist Network, the Coalition of Resistance and all anti-cuts organisations. I have been instrumental in building the profile of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) and I’m proud of the work my campaign has done in fighting for fully funded education for all, regardless of being in Further or Higher Education.


Attempts to scapegoat Black people and immigrants for the austerity drive of this government should be fiercely opposed. David Cameron’s infamous Munich speech on the day the English Defence League led an Islamophobic rampage through Luton last year was a disgrace – to suggest that “multiculturalism has failed” is reactionary, untrue and dangerous. Multiculturalism in society and in our students’ unions should be welcomed and celebrated – that’s why I have organised One Campus Many Cultures events, Love Music Hate Racism gigs and consistently campaigned against racism in every facet of society. NUS should be at the heart of an anti-racist anti-cuts movement that stands firmly in its opposition to all racist scapegoating.

Black students, along with women, LGBT, disabled and international students are bearing the brunt of cuts to education and public services, and are most in need of a fighting and winning national union. I believe the Liberation Campaigns within NUS provide the best examples of democracy and building campaigns and supporting activists at a local, grass-roots level. As National President I would never deprioritise the role Liberation plays in our national union and would consistently oppose racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, disablism and all discrimination.


From the role it played in ending Apartheid in South Africa to opposing the war in Iraq, NUS has a proud history of campaigning for international peace and justice. If elected National President I will continue to make the arguments for education not war – NUS should immediately demand the government stops bombing other countries, withdraws our troops from Afghanistan now and finally ends the illegal and immoral siege on Gaza. It would save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of pounds if the government changed its twisted spending priorities away from war, occupation and unnecessary nuclear weaponry towards education and public services.


As NUS Black Students’ Officer I have led a campaigning movement that opposes all fees and cuts, racism in education and wider society and fiercely opposes the Tories’ ideological austerity agenda. In the face of staunch opposition from the NUS leadership I have held bigger events, all of them either free or cut-price for Further Education students, and involved more students than ever before. The Black Students’ Campaign has placed itself at the centre of the progressive coalition making the arguments against cuts, racism and war and for equality, peace and justice. I want to take what I’ve learnt in the Black Students’ Campaign and use it to throw open the doors of NUS to the millions of members we do not involve.

NUS did little or nothing to fight fees and cuts in 2011. It is not enough for us to simply passively “support” other organisations’ initiatives. NUS should be leading the student movement in opposing fees, cuts and the marketisation of our education. NUS is at a cross-roads, it can either continue down this path of increasing irrelevance, or it can embrace a radical new leadership, capable of mobilising hundreds of thousands of students and rocking the government to its core. I will provide that leadership and I hope you will put your faith and support in me as your next National President.

Kanja Sesay.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Police first taser, then shoot a young black man three times: amid rising tensions, Lee Jasper warns of the potential of further riots on our streets.

George is now recovering at King's College Hospital
(Evening Standard)

The police have shot yet another black man. The black community across London has reacted with anger and disbelief as the last vestige of trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police Service slowly ebbs away. Others and I have repeatedly warned of the lethal deterioration of the relationship of police and black communities in London. That issue should concern everybody and focus the minds of both politicians and police officers on this potentially explosive and parlous state of affairs.

In today’s political culture the reality is that the issue of race equality is being deliberately and routinely ignored. This ideological blind spot on serious and difficult race issues extends to Government, the Mayor of London and the weakened and enfeebled Greater London Assembly who are supposed to hold to account the Mayors newly created Mayors Office for Police and Crime. No currently elected representative is speaking out on these issues and that is symptomatic of profound and acute failure that results from ethnically unrepresentative democratic institutions in a multicultural city.

What happened to this young man? Well the facts as we know them are that on Sunday the 19th February, a young Ghanaian man just 25 yrs of age was reported as being suspected of breaking into a car. He was reported as having a knife and after failing to comply with officer requests to drop the knife and surrender he was contained and completely surrounded by armed officers.

What followed is subject to an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, but what we now know was this young Ghanaian had been both tasered and shot multiple times by armed officers. He is reported to be in a critical but stable condition.

At a sober public meeting called in the aftermath by *Metropolitan Police Service (publicised by the Lewisham Police Consultative Group) held on Saturday 25th February, the level of anger and concern was palpable.

Chaired by MPS Commander Zinzan, sitting alongside him was Lewisham Superintendent Jeremy Burton and Mike Franklin of the IPCC were in attendance along with others. This had followed a quickly arranged public meeting held on Monday 17th February where Commissioner Hogan Howe himself attended. That’s encouraging and should be welcomed, but the obvious question is where is the Mayor at a time of crisis?

Given that the Mayor is now solely responsible for the police and having endured the riots of last year, one would have thought he would be front and centre on this issue.  You have to ask the question where is the Mayor at a time when London’s community police tension indicators are flashing red?

Once again the Mayor is absent at a time of crisis, is silent when London needs clear leadership and strong reassurance. This callous indifference to the needs and concerns of black Londoners is the Mayor’s most fatal flaw. The result is a Mayor that is dangerously out of touch with the London’s black communities. The consequence of this acute political failure to understand the multicultural nature of the capital is that community and police relations continue to spiral dangerously out of control.

This latest incident represents a new nadir in the long and controversial history of black people and the police. What took place on Saturday gives an insight into the current state of these relations and you can see what happened at the meeting here.

The packed meeting heard from local eyewitnesses who stated that they witnessed scenes of chaos with police officers running around, shouting and screaming and seemingly out of control. People spoke of how the man in question lay completely naked in sub zero temperatures surrounded by officers with no one giving him any medical attention.

Others spoke of their real and genuine fear that, had they intervened, they too would have been shot. More spoke of the widespread fear for young black men who come into contact with the police with one elderly grandmother telling the police: “I’m afraid for my grandchildren. We are living in fear”.

Commander Zinzan responding to a question from the floor stated that “the MPS does not have a shoot to kill policy. Instructions to officers are to shoot to stop”

An eyewitness said that the press reporting of the young man being in possession of lots of knives did not tally with what they saw. The told the meeting that there was only one knife.

Another reported how she had argued with officers who had prevented a nurse from attending to her sick mother.  Another insightfully cited the case of Raoul Moat who went on a killing rampage and finally shot himself after a 6-hour standoff. This was presented in stark contrast to the treatment of the young Ghanaian, given that Moat posed a much more serious threat to the public.

Others complained that no real answers about the critical questions could be answered given the ongoing investigations. Some felt that this left a dangerous vacuum of information, particularly in the current context where trust and confidence is absent.

After repeated assertions by the Police that the young man in hospital was potentially dangerous and would be subject to immediate arrest once he was fit enough, others commented that police seemed more interested in interviewing the victim rather than the police officers involved in the shooting who had not yet been interviewed. It is left to officers to declare when writing their notes if they have spoken to colleagues. Police officers can then choose whether they speak to the IPCC or not or provide a written statement. The Officers spoke of the officer’s ‘trauma’ of having to shoot someone.

The police were then dramatically challenged a number of times about the constant harassment of family friends and visitors visiting the young man in hospital by police officers. Their answers were frankly abysmal.

First suggesting that a man in intensive care may abscond, then under challenge stating that the hospital welcomed their presence, an officer told the meeting that to imagine a “gang scenario” where a victim’s life may be under threat.

At this point the meeting erupted in anger and disbelief.

A key point was made by a member of the audience that pointed out there are high definition Transport for London cameras that would have caught the incident. This was confirmed by the IPCC who reported that they had reviewed the videos. This could be crucial evidence in determining the events that took place that cold Sunday morning in Lewisham.

Let us not forget that August 2012 saw some of the worst civil disturbances ever seen on the British mainland. The cost to London was and continues to be enormous. First and foremost we saw the tragic loss of life that ensued including that of Mark Duggan in Tottenham. We watched the smouldering embers of the ruined and burnt out shops, damage to homes and businesses amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds. Almost unnoticed and certainly not reported on by the press is the catastrophic deterioration of police and black community relations.

London’s black community police relations have reached breaking point as a result of the acute communications failure that resulted in the family of Mark Duggan and the local community of Tottenham being treated with, what I believe, was utter contempt by the Police, the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the London Mayor Boris Johnson.

These tensions have become seriously aggravated and inflamed as a consequence on the back of massive rises in discriminatory rude and aggressive ‘stop and searches’ in addition to the dramatic increases in the number of black men dying in suspicious circumstances whilst in police custody. This most recent event has stretched the sinews of this already taught relationship to breaking point.

Further insight into the breakdown of relations can be found in a number of post riot analysis reports. The key issues that emerged were stop and search, deaths in custody, rude and aggressive policing and youth unemployment that resulted in a lack of trust and confidence in the police and deep levels of alienation.

The MPS Kirkin report into the riots attempted to absolve the MPS of any real responsibility or culpability for the riots despite the shooting of Mark Duggan. Bizarrely the MPS attempted to suggest that local prominent black leaders were in part to blame. This is despite black leaders warning anyone who would listen of their concerns 24 hours before the riot took place.  Unfortunately neither the police nor the Mayor chose to heed those warnings. Now we are back here again it seems the Mayors Office has learned nothing from the events of last year.

Black communities need to make sure this Mayor is accountable for the actions of his officers. He is ultimately responsible and democratically responsible for the actions of the police and yet he has remained resolutely silent on this recent case. What he fails to understand is that the stakes for London are now incredibly high with tensions the way they are, London could see a repeat of last years disturbances as a result. The Mayor and the London Assembly must ensure that the MPS is reigned in and that these sensitive and delicate matters are given the urgent attention they deserve.

Here are some key questions that need answering immediately to begin to clam tensions:

  • Why was the young man not arrested after being initially tasered? Eyewitness reports suggest that he did go down after being tasered and was completely surrounded by armed officers.

  • Why was he then shot three times consecutively? The MPS policy is not to shoot to kill but to shoot to stop. Surely after being tasered he was capable of being arrested if not, then he most certainly could have been arrested after a single shot.

  • What was the calibre of bullets and weapons used?

  • Why were police dogs not used to disarm him as alternative to deadly and extreme force?

  • Why was negotiation not an option as used with Raoul Moat?

  • Why are he, his family and their friends being harassed by police officers at the hospital whilst seeking to come to terms and deal with the near death of their loved one?

And for our erstwhile Mayor and Mayoral candidates:

Why is the current Mayor showing zero interest in the calamitous and serious deterioration of police and community relations? How will either he or the Mayoral candidates respond to this worsening crisis?

In order to help ease increasing tensions between London’s black communities and the Police will you support a call of Government to hold a judicial led public inquiry into all suspicious deaths in custody as called for by the deaths in custody campaigning group United Friends and Family Campaign. ?

Of course with the Mayor now having complete control over the MPS and in the absence of Government agreement, will the Mayor or the Mayoral candidates using the power of the GLA Act, announce their own judicial public inquiry in London?

 Lee Jasper

*Please note correction: public meeting held on Saturday 25th February was called by Metropolitan Police Service (and publicised by the Lewisham Police Consultative Group) . Apologies for error in the original article.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Lord Blair's speech: The legacy of Stephen Lawrence

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The Legacy of Stephen Lawrence

I can think of few moments when, at the same time, I have felt so honoured and yet humble than the day last autumn when I – completely unexpectedly - opened a letter from Doreen Lawrence, asking me to give the first memorial lecture in memory of her and Neville’s son, Stephen. I was delighted to accept and I am delighted to be here.
For nearly 20 years, the case of Stephen Lawrence has dominated the landscape of my professional life: quite frankly, it has also helped to shape my personal belief system.

My point today, however, is to say three things – first, that the Met must and I believe never will forget that both its initial investigation into Stephen’s racist murder and, for too long a time, its subsequent dealings with his family were deeply flawed and the result was to heap more and more pain on Doreen, Neville and their family, in addition to the loss of their son; secondly, that, against that background, all of us should and are entitled to celebrate the marvellous and almost unprecedented impact of what Doreen and Neville and their family and supporters have achieved for millions of people, indeed to British society as a whole; and, thirdly, that as time passes and in the face of recession or apathy or remaining pockets of antipathy, based almost invariably on ignorance, we must stand together and not let the memory fade either of what horrors were done to the Lawrence family nor of what has been achieved. Stephen’s legacy – a legacy which I see primarily as being about the evolution of a more inclusive and equal Britain - must be driven on. That is our challenge.
Doreen, thank you so much for inviting me.

I know that this event is entitled the Stephen Lawrence Criminal Justice Lecture but, if you are expecting a detailed exposition of criminal procedure, then I am afraid you are in the wrong room. Why would I risk exposing my limited knowledge in front of an audience, so many of whom are as expert lawyers as you? While recognizing the significance of this case in terms of double jeopardy and the marvels of forensic science, I therefore want instead to use this short time to reflect on the wider significance in the UK of the concept of justice itself and, in particular, of criminal justice.

There is much talk at the moment about fairness. It is true that it is not entirely wise to equate justice exactly with fairness but I have no doubt that when people think about fairness, they often think about formal justice and specifically about criminal justice. They want to be reassured that the police and court systems deliver justice as fairly as possible but, above all, equally to all. And in no type of case, as I argued recently in the House of Lords, is that more true than in the case of murder. And here today, we should acknowledge that is exactly why the case of Stephen Lawrence is so important. Because in relation to Stephen’s murder, the system failed to work properly, again and again, over many years.

I thought I had read most angles on the long campaign for justice for Stephen – a campaign which it must be emphasised is not yet over – but I want to draw the attention of all of you to a point brilliantly made by Matthew Ryder QC, once counsel for the Lawrences, speaking shortly after the recent trial. He compared the campaign by Neville and Doreen Lawrence to that of Rosa Parks, whose refusal in 1955 to accept segregation on buses in Alabama is often described as the seminal moment of the civil rights movement in the US. The point Mr Ryder makes is that both cases represented a new departure in the struggle for racial equality, the moment when that struggle ceased mainly to be expressed in violence on the streets but took on the establishment lawfully and with dignified visibility, only to see the establishment overtly fail to deliver justice, until in Rosa Park’s case, the US Supreme Court intervened and confronted America with the necessity of desegregation, and until, for Doreen and Neville, the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw (who I see as the godfather of all this change and am delighted to see here this morning), set up the McPherson enquiry into Stephen’s racist murder.

Thus Stephen’s death was a watershed. But before I go on to describe the impact of the murder and the changes wrought by what followed, I want to beat one sword into a ploughshare between Paul Dacre and myself.

In general, I think readers of his newspaper over many years might fairly assume that he and I do not seem to agree on very much. But there is one outstanding exception, which is why we are both on this platform today.

And that is the way both of us were both moved by this case above all others and determined to do something about it. I am no historian of newspapers but I would put his decision - and I understand it to be his alone – to name and publish photographs of the alleged but then unconvicted assailants of Stephen on the front page of the Daily Mail, branding them murderers and inviting them to sue, as one of the great editorial calls. Mr Dacre, you changed history.

You changed history, I would suggest, because I am sure that that headline was one of the decisive factors in the McPherson recommendation - and the then government’s decision to accept it - to abolish the doctrine of autrefois acquit. From that decision to allow double jeopardy, subject to very significant safeguards, the route lay open to the recent eventually successful prosecution of at least some of those involved in Stephen’s brutal death ..and, perhaps, one day, of some more.

But so, in a different and much longer and much more tortuous way the Met also changed and, in terms of your paper’s coverage of that journey, Paul, I think you have simply been wrong about the significance of celebrating and fostering diversity in policing. Because, while what the Met has been trying to do was about fairness and justice, it was also uniquely about police effectiveness - and without effectiveness, fairness and justice cannot be delivered, as we have seen in the Lawrences’ long wait for resolution.

Let me explain. When organisations discuss the creation of a diverse workforce and the delivery of equal treatment to customers from diverse backgrounds, they normally do so in terms of two kinds of good: first, that it is simply a moral good to provide equality of opportunity to all and, secondly, that it makes good business sense to provide the organisation with the widest possible spread of talent in its workforce and the largest numbers of satisfied customers. People can call that political correctness if they like, although they are wrong.

But I had a moment shortly after my return to the Met in 2000 when I realised why these two categories of good were not, by themselves, enough for the police. I was sitting at dinner with a senior RAF man who was full of excitement that the air force had got its first minority candidates on the way to being fighter pilots. (The first, of course, since the Second World War, when Indian pilots fought in the Battle of Britain, a fact he seemed to have forgotten). It was then that I realized that, unlike the RAF and the vast majority of other organizations, the police had a third good to pursue in recruiting, retaining and progressing black and minority staff, which was that it was, quite simply, an operational necessity.

 Frankly, the colour of your skin does not matter when you are travelling at Mach 2: it can matter when you are dealing with a victim of crime or a suspect, it does matter that ‘the Met should look like London’, if London as a whole is to trust it. Much derision has been heaped on the Met for its decision to foster staff associations of officers and staff from different faiths and ethnic backgrounds, whether Hindu or Muslim, Christian or Jewish or Sikh. But it was members of the granddaddy of these groups, the Met Black Police Association, which suggested to the Met that it should seek out those of its members who spoke Yoruba to assist in the investigation of the murder of Damilola Taylor.

A woman officer, a founder member of the Met BPA, told me how she had knocked, on the first day of that exercise, on a door on the Peckham estate where Damilola had died in 2000. A young girl opened the door a crack and asked in English what she wanted, to which the officer replied in English that she wanted to talk about the murder of the little boy, information that the girl relayed down the hall in Yoruba. In Yoruba, the answer from inside came back from an unseen but older woman to tell the officer to go away because the family did not speak to the police. Before the girl could speak, the officer said, in Yoruba, ‘I think you will speak to me’ and the door was flung open, not just to her but to the police enquiry as a whole.

When I last looked, 42% of London’s economically active population was from a minority community. The late Sir Robert Mark, the greatest of 20th century Met Commissioners, once remarked that ‘The police are the anvil on which society beats out the problems and abrasions of social inequality, racial prejudice, weak laws and ineffective legislation’ and the fact cannot be ignored that, since the Notting Hill race riots of 1958, the relationship between the Met and those communities has been strained, often to breaking point. As one witness to the McPherson enquiry remarked, the Afro-Caribbean community of London felt itself ‘over-policed and under-protected’. Meanwhile, the Met had difficulty getting past the 1985 murder of Constable Keith Blakelock at Broadwater Farm.

One day, something had to change all that. It turned out to be the report by Sir William McPherson into Stephen’s murder.
It changed the relationship because it did not merely insist that the Met should overhaul its homicide investigation systems, reintroduce first aid training and go on another bout of race awareness training. It changed it because it made clear that the Met had catastrophically failed the Lawrences and needed a complete overhaul of its culture and leadership. It was a dramatic step change on from Lord Scarman’s report into the Brixton riots of a decade before.

Within the report, the now famous definition of institutional racism was given as:-
‘The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour, which amount to discrimination though unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping’.

Under Paul Condon’s leadership, the Met quite bravely did not resist either the report or this definition, a course of action for which many voices were calling, but instead introduced a huge programme of change. This was inspired particularly through the Met’s decision to create and maintain an Independent Advisory Group, comprising some of the force’s fiercest critics, brought in to answer the simple question, ‘all right then, how would you do it?’ Some of its members are here today, as is John Grieve, the senior detective who worked with them on so much of the early reinvestigation work after the first failed prosecution.

What the Advisory Group did, aided later on by the creation of a Metropolitan Police Authority (also itself a McPherson recommendation), with a specific statutory duty to promote equality, was to insist that the Met should understand and tackle the pernicious and non-overt forms of discrimination inherent in institutional racism. They insisted that the Met should change its systems of recruitment, retention and promotion, the nature of its response to critical incidents in communities, the handling of grieving families and its approach to internal grievances. They demanded that the Met should have the emotional intelligence to begin to police, not just in an unseeing, one size fits all way but in a manner that demonstrated that it was interested in the experiences and expectations of policing held by different communities. They demanded, and Operation Trident – the Met’s long running work with black communities - proves, that the Met should try to solve crimes with communities, not do detection to them. It is a long journey, never completed and the Met is a much better place for it.

As an aside, I think the legacy of all that can be seen in the current police approach to terrorism: with all its difficulties, the Prevent strand of the UK national counter-terrorism strategy, ‘Contest’, is attempting to solve terrorism through working with communities, a far cry from the much more militarized approach to be seen, for instance, in the USA. That is a direct result of the Met’s learning from Stephen.
But that is not the only or even main significance of Stephen and of the Lawrence family. The Met is just one institution: what the Lawrences achieved was change across a far greater canvas, a fresh way to look at race and community overall, a fresh language, a fresh legal framework, to be expressed across Britain, through many institutions and through communities themselves.

Looking back at that ghastly surveillance film shown at the trial is to examine an exhibit from another time. Britain, as Trevor Philips put it in 2009, ‘is by far – and I mean by far – the best place to live in Europe if you are not white’. That cannot have been how it seemed in 1993.
And in that change, there can be no greater beacon of hope than the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. When you think of what Stephen might have become, of what different lives his family might have had, of what they have sacrificed, a Trust in his name which offers bursaries and training from young men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds is a triumphant statement of indomitable hope.

There always have been great achievers in the black community and I am proud that I will soon be sharing the stage with Garth Crooks, one of the first black professional footballers in the UK, the first black chair of their Association and a great and honest spokesman about the nature of racism in that sport and with Patricia Scotland, born in Dominica as the tenth of twelve children, who has sequentially become the first black QC, the first woman Attorney General and a life peeress. I am sure they will both have much to say in a moment.
But we cannot rely only on individual great achievers. Thomas Wolsey, the son of an Ipswich butcher, became Cardinal and Lord Chancellor of England but I would not rely on his progress to suggest widespread social mobility in 15th century England. We know that, in our time and for a really significant majority, the barriers of race and class are still there.

We know about the disproportionate underachievement and exclusion of black children, particularly boys – and here, even as I use this speech to mention now one of my favourite charities, the work of Decima Francis and Uanu Seshmi at the Boyhood to Manhood Foundation - we must accept that we know that one of the reasons is the absence of father figures and the poverty of expectations being offered to inner-city school children, which too often seem to be about becoming celebrities, footballers or deadend jobs..or the gangs.
We know that black children are twice as likely to die before they are one than their white sisters and brothers, four times as likely to be murdered before they are 30, five times as likely to be imprisoned and three times as likely to be poor in old age. There are no black editors in mainstream journalism, few black judges and there have only been two minority police officers of the rank of chief constable. The financial centre that is the City of London remains a white enclave.

So while there is hope, there is a long way to go. Worse we, those committed to justice, also have to accept that the current climate has some aspects which seem very unfavourable to the righting of the very structural injustices which the Stephen Lawrence Charitable trust was set up to fight.

The Metropolitan Police Authority, with so many members committed to equalities, was abolished last month and the governance of policing placed in the single hands of a Mayor, who may or may not have any abiding interest in matters of race. With the exception of Cressida Dick, the generation of senior Met officers who drove through the response to McPherson has largely passed and I do not know whether their successors can care in the same way. The difficulties over stop and search remain.

The coalition has hardly addressed the issue of racial equality since it took office, as Doreen Lawrence so clearly explained in her interview with the Guardian at the end of last month. Meanwhile, the idea that ‘we are all in this together’ appears to strain credulity. This is not just about race. The inequalities, so simply highlighted by the 99 vs 1 slogan of the worldwide Occupy movement, make clear that the gulf between the very rich and everyone else is becoming an issue of deep social concern. However, we know that some communities will suffer more than others in the economic downturn, that one of those communities will be Afro Caribbean and hence race and class will collide.

I think it is deeply unfortunate that the government refused to undertake a proper, probably judicial enquiry into the causes of last year’s riots, quite simply the worst in Britain for centuries. While it is quite appropriate that lengthy prison sentences should be handed down for the worst offenders, to cast the main response to the riots almost entirely through the prism of crime and punishment seems seriously inadequate as an explanation. Furthermore, in my opinion, any question about policing to which the answer is plastic bullets and water cannon must be, by definition, the wrong question.

That is not to say that it is appropriate to be soft on wrong doing, on the grounds of race or anything else. What I have seen over the years in cases investigated through Operation Trident reveals some appalling, murderous and misogynistic behavior within a small and troubled section of the black community. As Beverley Thompson, an early chair of the Met’s IAG, once strikingly said to me: ‘we must all beware of the liberal trap: being black does not deprive you of the right to be a bad person.’
We must be therefore be clear eyed. But we have to be determined. We have to use Stephen’s brief life, his undeserved and appalling death and his parents’ courage and dignity to press ahead towards a country which values inclusivity – for all, including the poor and disadvantaged of all communities, including the much-neglected poor white neighbourhoods from which his killers sprang – and equality of opportunity above privilege.

Within the last few weeks, the Prime Minister spoke of the desirability of maintaining Christian values in Britain. Let’s try some. Last year, I went to Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives is a mile away from the city walls. It was there that Christ is said to have preached and rested at night with his companions, women as well as men, Samaritans as well as Jews, publicans and sinners, as the great King James’ Bible puts it. Only on this visit did I learn that the Mount of Olives was at that time the site of Jerusalem’s leper colony. Christ did not believe in exclusion.
Nor do I. Nor do the Lawrences. Nor do you. In Stephen’s name, let us accept the challenge he has bequeathed to us and drive on towards change for the better.

Thank you very much.
Lord Blair

Police discrimination in Britain - Press TV

'Are the British police discriminating against their own officers? High profile cases like that of Ali Dizaei, former Metropolitan police chief, have repeatedly ended up in court.

The hacking scandal has exposed the close relationship between the police, the politicians and the media.

This episode of INFocus takes a closer look at police corruption, the hacking scandal and double standards in Britain.'

Liverpool Football Club responds to anti racist's concerns.

The recent and on going furor surrounding Liverpool Football Club’s handling of the Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra incident continues to illustrate the depth and breadth of racism in the UK.

The recent public letter sent by 18 prominent black and anti racist organisations to LFC has been the catalyst for further denial of the racist nature of this miserable affair. 

In seeking to bring clarity to the debate I want to make a few things clear.  There is no accusation that Suarez himself is a racist. He made racially derogatory and offensive remarks that are unacceptable in the modern British game.

Secondly nobody accused LFC of being a racist club. What was said is that their handling of this particular affair was extremely poor and incited further racism and that they should do something about it. Liverpool has a moral responsibility to football and the country as a whole to ensure that they set the highest standards when dealing with issues of race.

And what is being asked of them? That Suarez should apologise to Evra. He and the club are both, I believe morally compelled to do so.

In addition, that LFC make a public statement alongside others committing themselves to opposing racism and finally organise a conference on racism in football. All simple things, that would go a long way to repairing some of the damage done by LFC’s lack of leadership on this issue. Hardly a life sentence is it?

In response and reported on by the BBC, LFC have said they are committed to tackling racism.

"Liverpool FC made clear its disappointment with what happened recently at Old Trafford and both Luis Suarez and Kenny Dalglish issued apologies.”
Whilst true, LFC have consistently denied the existence of any racist element in this matter
"The player did not previously appeal the FA sanction, served his suspension and apologised to anyone he had offended”.
One assumes that the reason no appeal was made was because both Suarez and LFC accepted he was guilty. The apology issued was in reference to the failed “ hand shake” and not for using racially offensive language.
"In light of recent events, the club has met with a number of key national and local stakeholders on these issues. We are also working with Sporting Equals, an independent UK-wide charity and one of the leading experts in equality and diversity in sport to develop a strategic action plan encompassing both our staff and external stakeholders."
This sounds promising and we looked at Sporting Equals website and to our surprise we found that Dr Zafar Iqbal, 1st Team Doctor at Liverpool FC is also Sporting Equals Physical Activity Ambassador. We have written to Sporting Equals for further clarification.
We will also be requesting the names of those “national and local key stakeholders” who LFC say they are working with. Preliminary enquiries by us have not been able to establish LFC is in contact with any local black organisations in Liverpool. 
LFC continued…
"We are committed to playing our part, alongside the game's authorities and other agencies, in the fight against racism and discrimination of any sort."
Whilst we welcome this preliminary statement by Liverpool in response to our letter, their initial failure to appeal the Suarez suspension speaks volumes.

We hope in the spirit of reconciliation, and in line with LFC stated commitment to play it’s part in the fight against racism, that a full apology is issued.

Black people are reporting to me that Suarez name is now being used as a form of racial abuse. There can be no more compelling reason for LFC to reconsider their position.

It is vital that LFC are seen to be absolutely unequivocal in their opposition to racism. In this instance that requires they provide an immediate apology to Evra and acknowledge and repair the damage done by their mishandling of the whole affair.

Lee Jasper

Monday, 20 February 2012

Community leaders & anti racist organisations accuse Liverpool FC of inciting racism - press release

Press Release
Monday February 20th
Contact Lee Jasper: 07984 181797

Liverpool Football Club has come under fierce criticism from an influential group of high profile, local and national black leaders, alongside a host of anti racist organisations.

The group have written an open letter delivered today accusing LFC and manager Kenny Dalglish of grossly mishandling the Saurez/Patrice Evra affair contributing to the incitement of racism in football and wider society. We know that they have had good advice to assist them and refused to take it choosing instead to continue on in this manner.

The group called on LFC to accept the findings of the FA investigation that concluded that Suarez had racially abused Evra and offer an immediate and unreserved apology to Evra.

LFC is accused of colluding with racism by seeking to dismiss the FA's findings and racially aggravating this sensitive issue by inappropriately and misguidedly showing public team support for Suarez post the publication of the FA's investigative report into these matters. The refusal of Suarez to shake Evra's hand was a further incitement of racism.
The group called on LFC to acknowledge the implicit racism involved and issue a statement with other civic leaders committing themselves to opposing racism and to commit to organise a conference on racism in football.

Gloria Hyatt MBE said

" Liverpool Football Club has presided over the worst incident of racism in football seen in recent years. Their misguided handling of Suarez/Evra has let down all of those in the city who worked hard to challenge racism and make Liverpool a better place to live for everyone."

Lee Jasper a national human rights and race equality campaigner said

" The club including the owners, the players and the manager need to realise the enormous damage caused by their reluctance and obdurate behaviour. Kenny Daglish used to manage Celtic he ought to know the importance of stamping out bigotry. The club failed the city, the nation as a whole and in particular Britain's black communities. Their abysmal lack of leadership on this issues has given a green light to racism. They must make urgent reparations and make a clear and unequivocal apology".
Letter sent to Liverpool FC:

Statement of Intent

We the undersigned wish to express our grave concerns about the inadequate responses of Liverpool Football Club to the findings by the FA regulatory commission that determined Luis Saurez was guilty of racially insulting the Manchester United player, Patrice Evra.

Football is a unifying sport providing pleasure and entertainment to billions of people across the planet. Young people from every corner of our world passionately support their team. Football players are held in high regard and viewed as positive role models.

Clubs, players and managers have an important and globally recognized responsibility to demonstrate their commitment to the principle of common decency and fair play. Throughout the world, both on and off the football pitch they inspire and socially educate billions of young people who admire and mimic their actions.

The issue of racism in football is one that requires unambiguous anti racist leadership. The actions of LFC in the run up to and following the publication of the FA’s findings fell short of the high standard of leadership expected for a team of their standing in the football community.  

LFC actions, in vehemently rejecting the findings of the FA inquiry, their public displays of support for a player found guilty of racist abuse and his subsequent refusal to shake the hand of Evra at a recent game is completely unacceptable. These actions we believe could be considered as inciting racial intolerance.

Whilst the subsequent apologies for the failure to engage with the traditions of a pre game “hand shake” are to be welcomed, there remains deep concern, about LFC’s absolute refusal to accept the findings of the FA’s investigation. As such these apologies fail to meet the test of genuine remorse and understanding. This is further negated by LFC’s failure to apologise for racism either through the club or Suarez.

Neither have LFC recognised or acknowledged the consequent damage to race relations resulting from their actions and   recognised by many people of all races across the country. As a result, efforts to combat racism in football and the wider society in general have been critically undermined.

Compounding these serious errors is the failures of Liverpool’s civic leaders, many of whom have remained silent on these critical issues and have failed to publicly condemn LFC’s decision not to robustly and effectively challenge racism. 

Such is the overwhelming power of the Premier League and the influence of clubs such as LFC it is imperative that this situation cannot be allowed to stand.
The international reputation of Liverpool as a city committed to race equality is at stake.  In addition there is a real and urgent need to restore confidence in the campaign against racism in football, both here, in the UK and across the world.

To this end we have four key demands;
  • that LFC publicly accept the findings of the FA into the Suarez case. 
  • that LFC and Suarez publicly apologize to Patrice Evra. 
  • that LFC in partnership with Liverpool and national black and ethnic minority organisations commit to and sponsor an international conference on the issue of eradicating racism in football.
  • that civic leaders in addition to LFC sign up to a public declaration reaffirming their commitment to combating racism and promoting race equality through pro active actions. 

Love Football, Hate Racism:
Twitter: follow @LFHRUK
Consortium of Liverpool and National Black and Minority Organisations:

Gloria Hyatt MBE Teach Consultancy Limited
Liverpool Black Leadership Forum
Femi Sowande Merseyside Black History Month Group
Eric Lynch Slavery History Tours
Alec Mcfadden Merseyside Coalition Against Racism and Facism
Alec Mcfadden   Merseyside TUC
Paul Sesay Smith Diversity Group and National Diversity Awards
Earl Jenkins Kingsley United
Paul Jenkins North West Unite Against Facism
Zita Holbourne Black Activists Rising Against Cuts
Shantele Janes Cheshire Halton and Warrington Race Equality Centre
Tracey Hylton Edit Consultancy
Lee Jasper London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium
Peter Herbert  OBE Society of Black Lawyers
Simon Woolley Operation Black vote
Charles Crichlow National Black Police Association
Dave Weaver 1990 Trust
Stafford Scott Tottenham Defence Campaign
Viv Ahmun Coreplan

Friday, 17 February 2012

Bernard Hogan-Howe - Commissioner WebChat epic fail (via @LSGDOTCOM )

Image Detail

(All content below is from: 

This morning at 10:30am the Met Police commissioner conducted a web chat about the police's new focus on tackling gangs.

The transcript is below with some annotation. As you will notice it was again a farce with the commissioner unwilling to provide any real answers. It was used as an opportunity for self-promotion of the Met and its policies. When BHH took over at the Met he said he was 'no-ones political lackie' - but we now know that is not true.

The Webchat Transcript:

Host@MPS: Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe will be joining us shortly to take your questions about the Met's new focus on tackling gangs. Submit your questions now

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Morning everyone, thanks for joining during this webchat on gangs. I look forward to answering your questions.

#AskMetBoss Does the use of joint enterprise have a place in the Met’s current strategy tackling gangs. If so, in what way? [via Twitter]

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks @Justice4Jon. Good question, we will be using Joint Enterprise in the gangs strategy - for those who are unaware this means that you can be arrested and convicted for murder even if you were not there at the scene, if you were involved in the conspiracy or act in anyway.

We are committed to educating young people on joint enertprise, this is demonstrated through our recent interactive campaign we launched to highlight such consequences is ‘Choose a Different Ending’. Click here to see it:

LSG COMMENT - Does not answer question. Maybe he will answer the next one?

alastairtaylor1: Is there anyway in your opinion or from what you have seen that communities can do to prevent gangs from forming?
#AskMetBoss [via Twitter]

Commissioner Hogan-Howe:
 Good question @Alastairtaylor1. Our strategy will involved two parts. First to enforce the law to gang members and prosecute them where we can. Or if they are prepared to be helped, then we will divert them to activities that may prevent their offending. Both will only work with the support of the communities who can give us intelligence about who is in the gang and where we might find evidence.

Gangs will find it difficult to operate if local people stand up and provide evidence in court and intelligence which the police can use. We also work with partners such as church groups in our fight against gangs.

LSG COMMENT: Again, no intention of answering the question. Does not say what communities can do to prevent gangs, just advises that we shop young people to the police, bearing in mind this step would come long after they had joined a gang. Enforcement all the way by the sounds of it...

Comment From Ben Mnyama How do you hope to measure the success of the new Trident Gang Unit

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks Ben, we believe there are around 250 gangs in London of which 62 are the most serious criminals. They have 4,800 members, we will see by the end of the year how many we have arrested and prosecuted or how many we have diverted away from criminality. I doubt we will arrest all of them this year, but we will see progress in the next 12 months.

LSG COMMENT: Seriously, what kind of strategy is this? We'll see how many we can arrest and prosecute and how many we can divert. Were the Met supposed to advocate SMART objectives, according to their own internal propaganda (find much of it at What is smart or achievable about this? The Met have no control of the CJS and don't control the majority of diversions, so basically achieving this objective is beyond their control. Much of the same then.

Comment From Kelly Following on from the stop and search discussion previously, what powers will be given to police in areas which are known for gang-related incidents? It concerns me that the police are doing too much to please the press, and not enough to stop crime.

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hi Kelly, I want us to have effective and intelligent use of stop and search which targets criminals. That mean that we should be targeting gang members therefore stop and search should help us with our gang strategy. However, I do want to reduce the repeated number of stop searches of innocent people who have done nothing wrong.

LSG COMMENT: Cheek. Basically #AskMetBoss says if you're innocent you should only expect to be stopped and searched once. Just improve your intelligence and stop 'Stop & Searching' innocent people. Simply having "IC3" as your intelligence is not good enough excuse.

Comment From Lee Jasper The relationship with the MPS and Londons Black communities is the worst I've seen in 30 years. You have fatally compromised Trident by allowing the Mayor to politically hijack the good work and community partnerships delivered by Trident. The MPS has lost the confidence of black communities through massive year on year increases in stop and search and controversial deaths in police custody. How are you going to repair and restore confidence.?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hello Lee, I disagree with almost everything you have said. I hope you will be able to help us in our fight to stop gang members hurting people, they appear responsible for 1 in 4 serious violence cases, half of the shootings, 1 in 5 robberies and 1 in 6 rapes. Surely we need to work together to stop that? This is building on the good work of Trident, rather than compromising it, I believe it is better to confront the problem rather than ignore it. I am interested in crime fighting, not elections.

LSG COMMENT: via Twitter @LeeJasper #AskMetBoss just answered your Q in a way that blames the entire gang problem on one single race.

Comment From Meryl #AskMetBoss have you seen an increase in gang violence, and do you think that it is linked to current climate of unemployment, financial difficulties and low opportunity? If so, is putting these people at risk of jail really going to have a long-term impact on gang crime or is just a plaster covering up a wider-scale wound?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hi Meryl, I arrived in London as Commissioner in Sept 2011. Many people I talk to told me that for 3-4 years people have been worried about gangs. In my view that would be foolish to ignore that. If that is true this problem started before the recession, I do not know whether it has got worse as a result of our economic difficulties, I do know we have to do something about it. Realy whatever the cause we have to deal with it.

LSG COMMENT: Many people you talk to? Who? Are you referring to Boris, Kit and all them other "gang experts" who come from the ends? Or did you read a Daily Mail headline.

Comment From We_love_Tottenham Changing gang culture will require going back to schools, get to know the kids BEFORE the gangs get them. Have local officers who interact with kids not been considered? I live in tottenham and could not tell you the name of one policeman in my area. we feel detached from the authorites, not protected as we should do

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks for your question, I'm sorry you feel like that. we do have many police officer and PCSOs who work with the schools and neighbourhoods. In fact we have just put an extra 50 police officers into Haringey to help with that work. We also have dedicated officers who are based in schools. Sounds like you would like to work more with the police and here you can find contact for your local team:

LSG COMMENT: Look, you serve us, we pay for your service. You should therefore be making an effort to come and engage with us, not sitting there saying there are no problems waiting for us to come and get you. It's called being pro-active, a word often tossed about by the Met Police but rarely tried in reality.

Comment From Becky
It would seem the problem with gangs is the lack of respect for police. How are you going to get that respect back

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hi Becky, I believe the police gain respect by building trusting relationships with the public who in turn pass on their concerns and intelligence about those committing crime. Then the police go out and arrest them. Provided the police act reasonably and within the law then we can build respect with the public for the police.

In addition we do a huge amount of work with young people to jointly tackle gangs and last Wednesday a lot of young people joined us to show their support for the new gang approach.

LSG COMMENT: Again, suggesting that the only thing the community should be doing is shopping young people so they can arrest them.

Comment From Carol Stewart Sacryd Do you believe that enforcement led approaches to tackling the problem with gangs will work? what about preventative measures?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hello Carol, my earlier answer did explain that we will be working as hard on diversion as we are on enforcement. This will include local authorities, charities, churches and any partner who is willing to help us implement our gangs strategy.

LSG COMMENT: Another clear avoidance of the question posed

Comment From PCB Who are the new gang unit accountable to? How do you monitor potential for corruption when they start to uncover money/drugs at the higher level of these gangs?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks for your question, the gang unit are accountable in the Met to Commander Steve Rodhouse and I am accountable to the Mayor for the Met. We have an independent advisory group who work with Trident unit who continue with the new work. we have a professional standards dept who carry out covert operations and to any allegations of corruption. The vast majority of our officers have integrity and carry out their jobs in a professional way.

LSG COMMENT: So, this new Trident gang is accountable to THE POLICE (Steve Rodhouse) and THE POLICE (professional standards department), but NOT DIRECTLY accountable to the community it serves or the Mayor (who is going to support everything wholeheartedly as he influenced this rubbish).

Comment From Guest How does the Met compile its data on the number of gangs in London? If it uses online resources, and there is evidence to suggest that it does, how does it confirm that information correct?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hello, we have a number of sources, but namely from community intelligence. That means people tell us who is in the gangs that includes criminals telling us and gang members too. Not sure about the online sources, but we do know that very committed organisations make their own assessment how many gangs there are and how dangerous they are. We take this into consideration in our own assessments.

LSG COMMENT: Someone doesn't really know the answer to this question.

Comment From TiMg Carrying a knife or weapon- we constantly hear that this carries a custodial sentence, when we know in pratice it doesn- many kids say they carry them only as a deterrent. As a father of a law-abiding teenage son what would you recommend he does to protect himself..?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: TiMg, my advice is to never carry a knife or to join a gang. Evidence shows that those who carry knives or who are in a gang are more likely to become a victim of crime.

If you would like some more help for your son, you may want to look at our website for young people:

LSG COMMENT: Bit more self-promotion of the Met. That evidence shows comment...many people are more likely to have been victimised before choosing to carry a knife for protection, so that's misleading. Anyway, we have a web link to answer this..

Comment From Keren What are you doing to protect young witnesses? Will you pledge that they won't be let down as reported this week? And do you think it right that they will not be able to get legal aid to sue for damages if things go wrong?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks for your question Keren. This week's awful example occurred in 2005 since then the Met and CPS have learnt a lot. We have a excellent system in place for protecting vulnerable witnesses. It is not easy but witnesses should feel confident in coming forward with evidence in the court system and we will protect them.

LSG COMMENT: They cannot guarantee protection.

#AskMetBoss How can you make a difference with communities that mistrust you so much? What are you going to do to improve this? [via Twitter]

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Thanks for your question. I think there are three other things that we need to concentrate on 1. Firstly improve neighbourhood policing 2. Get better at stop and search 3. Our youth engagement strategy needs to be bolder. All of this is hard work with a population of 7.5 million, but we can do it.

LSG COMMENT: Yes, the commissioner is due another coffee break so no time to answer this question, just spout some mitigating factor regarding the population. But we thought there were only 4,800 gang members (0.06% of London's population)

Comment From lisa Local grassroots projects in the heart of the community that use strong mentors to work with young people, seem to have good impact. What do you feel you can learn from them?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hi Lisa, we will try to build these into our gangs strategy. We will make every effort to match individual gang members with the right scheme for them. Part of our approach is making sure we work with a range of different agencies to find the right solution to help a gang member leaving that lifestyle. Mentoring schemes have proved to be very effective.

LSG COMMENT: We will TRY and build them into our gangs strategy? TRY? How about we WILL. And you SHOULD be.

Comment From Dave What is the definition you work to of a gang?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hello Dave, in my view a gang is any group of criminals who act together to commit crime or intimidate people. You will see more complex definitions, but for me that is the heart of it. We need to concentrate on the gangs that commit most serious crime. it is natural for people to group together, football teams, churches and normal friendships - obviously we are not trying to criminalise normal behaviour, particularly young people. We are targeting criminals.

LSG COMMENT: Targeting criminals, or criminalising youths? Not all gang members commit crime, even in the periphery of some of the most serious gangs.

Comment From Marisa How do you plan on tackling gangs when the causes are due to identity or inclusion issues? Are there going to be any strategies put in place to try and replicate those issues, when families are not an when other services are turning a blind eye?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: Hello Marisa, we want to divert young people away from crime. We will prioritise those who want help, particularly when they have had a difficult start in life and remain in difficult circumstances. However, we have to stop criminals hurting other people and sometimes that will mean arresting and prosecuting them.

#askmetboss How will MET partner with VCS organisations like us who work directly with gang members/those on peripheries of gang membership? [via Twitter]

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: We have launched our squad and it will develop more over the next year. As I said earlier we want to match the gang members with the right schemes. During the next 12months our work can act as a catalyst for lots of local schemes, please keep an eye on our sites to see how you can work with us in future.

LSG COMMENT: No no no, you should be looking to work with the community, not expecting them to come and link with you. You are the ones who want the trust of the community so you should be working to build it and proving that your efforts are sincere.

Comment From TiMg Police have plenty of powers to restrict travel/congregation/and social activity via section 60/banning orders used on football fans0 why cant you do this with gangs?

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: You're right a core principle of our enforcement strategy will be to stop the gang members meeting together or communicating. They are more intimidating as a group, so we will split them up and deal with them.

LSG COMMENT: Why? Can't you just stop them offending and encourage them into pro-social activities in their friendship group. Splitting them up and taking away their support network is not the best strategy...

Commissioner Hogan-Howe: I'm afraid that was the last question. Thank you to everybody for their questions and taking the time to view. We have launched the gangs strategy, but the hard work now starts. It may take a few years, but we will get rid of many of these gangs and their criminality.

LSG COMMENT: An hour is plenty, on a £260k salary that hour has cost us approximately over £100.