“Had the police done their job properly I would have spent the last 18 years grieving for my son rather than fighting to get his killers to court.”
JUST believes that the Metropolitan Police has crucial questions to answer as to how and why the contamination of vital evidence occurred. Unless there is an urgent review of present procedures and clear processes on the preservation of key evidence across all police forces, the pain that the Lawrence family had to endure is likely to be repeated.
So has justice been served in the Stephen Lawrence case? The Acting Chief Constable of Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick believes that the campaign of the Lawrence family has led to major changes towards racism in law, policing and society as a whole.
She is correct in so far as in the decade since the Macpherson Report, the legal framework has undoubtedly been strengthened and BME communities enjoy better safeguards, albeit with a higher threshold of proof for race hate crimes.
In policing and criminal justice terms however the statistics point to the disproportionate targeting of BME people: 1 in 4 of the prison population is Black; young men are 8-10 times more likely to be stopped and searched than White men; more BME police officers are leaving the service compared to their white counterparts; a disproportionate number of deaths following contact with the police are of Black people; almost half the deaths of people in police custody are mental health service users; deaths of those detained under the Mental Health Act account for 62 per cent of all deaths in state custody.
The disproportionate targeting of BME young men is not just specific to London but plagues young people in West Yorkshire too as a video compiled by JUST West Yorkshire in the immediate aftermath of the 7 July London bombings and the introduction of draconian anti-terror legislation revealed.
Recent proposals by the police to purchase water cannons, deploy rubber bullets and use disabling laser technology to quell future riots, highlight the continued use of punitive measures to policing young people and the BME community.
It is a very sensitive issue for any Indian. If someone dies, we have to perform all the rites. We burn the body on the day of death and for the next 13 days we have to do several other things, otherwise the soul might not rest in peace … (we) were ready to fly to Britain to bring the body home, but despite help from the Indian authorities there had been no progress in getting it released. They say the investigation is still pending, the charge sheet has not been filed and a second postmortem is still pending. The holidays are taking their toll. If there were more people working, we would not have to wait so long.
The call from the Bidve family to the British authorities “to help us to believe again that Britain is not a racist place” echoes the cry of the Lawrence family for fair justice. The renewed commitment of public bodies to the definition of Institutional Racism and the wholesale adoption of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report recommendations may be an effective starting point on the journey towards Fair Justice for ALL.
“I am privileged to have been associated with the Lawrence case. It was all down to the determination and perseverance of Mrs. Lawrence and her family.”
Imran Khan – Solicitor for Doreen Lawrence
“Anyone concerned with justice in this country would be relieved at the guilty verdicts delivered by the jury on the Stephen Lawrence case against the two racist killers – Gary Dobson and David Norris. Although we have a witnessed a small legal miracle at the central criminal today, it is not a day of celebration. It has taken nearly two decades for the trial to take place where the family had endure endemic failures of police investigations into the murder. But Stephen’s parents, Dorren and Neville, persisted with their quest for justice against overwhelming odds. Justice delayed always seems as if it is denied. We only hope that the police have learned valuable lessons as a result of this historical case and other families would not have to endure what the Lawrence family were forced to go through. Rather than remembering Stephen simply by the manner he died, we should instead cherish his memory by the way he lived through his promise, dreams and passion for life as a young black man growing up in troubled modernBritain. Surely then we could move nearer to eradicating racism in this country.”
Suresh Grover – Director The Monitoring Group and Co-ordinator Stephen Lawrence Campaign
“These Guilty Verdicts represent a triumph for the Lawrence Family’s determination and despite the failings of the initial police investigation they represent also a triumph of justice”
“Excellent News, justice at last, unfortunately the Lawrence family had to endure so much in the pursuit of justice. I hope the police service has learnt from this appalling and dreadful mistake which has caused 18 years of pain and misery to an innocent family following the loss of their child.”
Racism in the Police today is the worst I have seen. BME officers are being discriminated and disproportionately treated.
The Stephen Lawrence case has been part of my heritage and institutional racism is something that I have grown up with. It is a wonder that justice has taken so long to prevail and the tragedy of the Lawrence family is characteristic of the problems that many Black families have continued to face. It has taken almost 20 years for one victim’s family to get justice. How many more years do we have to wait to get equal justice?”
Moazzam Begg – Guantanamo Bay survivor and Director of Cage Prisoners
“Our Lawrence family has faced a double tragedy. Stephen was taken from them by brutal racists and then the family had to wait 18 years for justice simply because of the colour of their skin. I hope that no one else has to suffer as a result of the racism that remains evident in our criminal justice system and that we remain vigilant against the scourge of racism in our society.”
Rob Berkeley – Director of Runnymede Trust
“Today is a great day for Doreen, Neville and the Lawrence family, but also for British Justice.
To lose a loved one in a savage attack is one thing to have 18 years of fighting for justice is something no decent person should endure. Due credit must also go the Met Police who persisted with this case. But whilst we rejoice lets also remember the Stephen Lawrence inquiry recommendations are no longer being acted upon. So the small gains we made in transforming our institutions are being rolled back, and in some cases, such as ‘Stop and Search’ getting worse.”
Simon Woolley – Director of Operation Black Vote
“That heady fleeting moment of hope for black British citizens, when the McPherson Inquiry report determined that these monumental failures were not the result of one bad apple but of systemic institutional racism, seems like a distant long forgotten memory.”
Lee Jasper Former Policing Director for London and Chair of London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium
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The 2010/11 British Crime Survey (BCS) showed that the risk of being a victim of personal crime was higher for adults from a Mixed background than for other ethnic groups. It was also higher for members of all BME groups than for the White group.
The number of racially or religiously-motivated crimes in West Yorkshire rose 12 times faster than in other parts of the country. Government figures show 2,493 crimes were reported in 2007/08 across the county, compared with 234 in 1999/2000 – a rise of 965%.
Nationally there was an 82 per cent increase in that period from 21,750 to 39,643.
Per 1,000 of the population, Black persons were Stopped and Searched 7.0 times more than White people in 2009/10 compared to 6.0 times more in 2006/07.
Black persons were arrested 3.3 times more than White people, and those from the Mixed ethnic group 2.3 times more. 2009/10