Black women are invisible – neither white women nor black men – and that allows institutions such as the Met to claim there isn’t a problem.
We are now well accustomed to the Met’s knee-jerk responses to malpractice. There is the usual forceful denial of any such thing and then the closing of ranks. Finally, when the public manages to claw enough evidence of the truth from their unrelenting clutches, there is the carefully worded, PR-sanctified non-apology.
It is a trajectory with which PC Carol Howard – “singled out and targeted” because she is a woman and black in the elite Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG), the same unit responsible for the Plebgate scandal – is no doubt all too familiar. She was once used as a face for the Met’s diversity, but now an employment tribunal has ruled that the organisation had “directly discriminated” against her and exposed the force’s practice of systematically destroying evidence of sexual and racial discrimination within its ranks. Their actions are, in a word, outrageous.
They follow last year’s 20th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, when the Metropolitan Black Police Association (BPA) pointedly chose to declare that the Met remains institutionally racist. A year later, a string of revelations have further dented any trust we may have left in the force. In December the chief commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, admitted that crime figures were being fiddled, with offences such as rape going under-reported. New details emerge from Plebgate, exposing officers capable of brazen deceit, arrogantly believing themselves to be above the very law they purport to uphold.
It is presumably the “lack” of data that allowed Hogan-Howe to state that when it comes to racism “there is lots of evidence to say … we’re actually doing a pretty good job and we are improving all the time”. If doing a good job means adhering to the three wise monkeys’ maxim of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, then let’s give them a big thumbs up.