London Police Face Racism Investigation

A spokesman for the National Black Police Association says the investigations have been a long time coming.

Posted: 04/06/2012 01:57 PM EDT

Several police officers in London and Northern Ireland have been suspended following the launch of new investigations into alleged racism toward the public and Black members of the force.


In London, eight police officers and one staff member have been suspended while officials investigate allegations that they used racist language. In total, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is looking into 10 reported incidents of racism involving about 20 police officers and one staff member, a police spokesman told CNN.


According to Supt Leroy Logan, founding member of the National Black Police Association, the force was long overdue for an investigation of this scope.


"Every year since 2001, the young people have been saying how they believe they are being dealt with disrespectfully, not shown enough dignity, casual racist comments were being used," Logan told the BBC. "Like so many things, it lands on deaf ears until such a time as a free press — the media — get hold of it and forces people into action."


In Northern Ireland, racist and sectarian text messages caused the suspension of four police officers.


"We expect our staff to behave ethically and with the utmost integrity at all times both on and off duty," the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement. "Any officer who fails to abide by the high standards of behavior expected of all officers as laid out in our code of ethics can expect to be rigorously investigated."


Both investigations are the latest in a string of public embarrassments for the U.K.’s police. Earlier this week, prosecutors agreed to take a second look into the culpability of officers allegedly involved in the abuse and harassment of a 21-year-old Black man who was arrested in the days following last summer’s London riots. The incident came to light when the man produced an audio recording of the ordeal saved on his cellphone.


British legislator Keith Vaz told the BBC that the force cannot truly change until more “Black and Asian officers" are added to the ranks.


He said, "One of the ways of challenging any aspect of the canteen culture is if they [officers] live and work together and are able to share histories with people of different color.”


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(Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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