London: Two-thirds of Britain’s Chief Constables were either “too terrified” or did not care enough to acknowledge institutional racism in the force, the country’s most senior Indian-origin police officer has said.
According to The Telegraph, Neil Basu, who retired from the Metropolitan Police last year, said that “positive discrimination” should be introduced while recruiting ethnic minorities to combat institutional racism.
The UK’s former counter-terror chief revealed how a Chief Constable was told by his senior that he would be sacked for calling the force institutionally racist.
According to Basu, positive discrimination is the “only thing that will work” to improve the representation of ethnic minorities within the police service and so help counter racism.
“If you attract more people to join, you get more applicants. They are massively outweighed by the number of white middle-class undergraduate applicants,” he told Danny Shaw, the interviewer for Crest.
“If you do it on an equal waiting basis, they’re always going to crowd out black and brown voices unless you actually do something to increase the possibility of getting through. That is not about lowering standards, that’s about recognising if you’ve got a problem in that area.”
Around eight per cent of the British police workforce is from an ethnic minority, compared with 18 per cent of the population who belong to a black, Asian, mixed race or other ethnic groups, according to estimates.
Born to a Bengali doctor, who migrated from Kolkata in the 1960s, and a Welsh mother, Basu said he didn’t want positive discrimination 30 years ago when he joined the police.
“I wanted people to think I was a great cop. I didn’t want anyone to give me a leg up for any reason other than I was a great cop,” Basu was cited as saying in The Telegraph. “And everybody I know with a protected characteristic, whether they’re female, gay, black, brown also feel exactly the same way. We do not want positive discrimination. My point to the Government in setting policy is you will never have a representative police service without it.”
Basu was tipped for the post of Director General of Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA), equivalent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US. But he was turned down, reportedly due to honest differences with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the past.
It was then that he had called on police chiefs in Britain to admit there is institutional racism in policing in the country.
“I’ve been the only non white face as a chief officer for a very long time. I don’t think the Home Office cares about this subject at all,” he had said.
Basu, who gave up a banking career to become a police officer, said that at least a third of Chief Constables probably don’t think they are institutionally anything, and another third are “terrified of reducing morale by our frontline”.