Murdered refugee let down by 'institutional racism' of Avon & Somerset Police and Bristol City Council

  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Nick Wallis

A disabled refugee murdered by a vigilante was "failed" because of "discriminatory behaviour and institutional racism" within Avon & Somerset Police and Bristol City Council, a report has found.

Bijan Ebrahimi, 44, was beaten to death and his body torched in 2013 despite repeatedly reporting that he was being targeted for racist abuse.

Mr Ebrahimi was treated with "contempt" by police officers, while authorities "repeatedly sided with his abusers", according to the Safer Bristol Executive Board.

Many of the Iranian national's 85 calls to the force between 2007 and 2013 were labelled "dishonest" by officers and resulted in little action.

The report found a "collective failure" on the part of both the police and council.

Neighbour Lee James was jailed for life for Mr Ebrahimi's murder in July 2013.

In 2016, a police officer and community support officer were also jailed for their conduct over the case, while two other Pcs were sacked.

In 73 of the refugee's calls to police, Mr Ebrahimi reported incidents including racial abuse, criminal damage and threats to kill.

During many of the calls he remained polite and persistent.

But on dozens of occasions police did not record the claims or record them as crimes.

James eventually attacked and killed Mr Ebrahimi after wrongly believing he had been filming his children.

Monday's report found that the council and police had collectively failed to provide the 44-year-old with "an appropriate and professional service".

The more Mr Ebrahimi pleaded with police, the more "ingrained" the pattern of siding with his abusers became, it said.

Manisha Moores (r) - Mr Ebrahimi's sister. Credit: PA

The report stated: "There is evidence that Mr Ebrahimi was repeatedly targeted for racist abuse and victimisation by some members of the public, that this was repeatedly reported to Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Bristol City Council and that representatives of both organisations repeatedly sided with his abusers."

It continued: "His complaints resulted in little action.

"Some allegations and counter-allegations against Mr Ebrahimi seemed to be accepted on the basis that some were corroborated by others but without objective investigation or consideration that this might be collusion between perpetrators rather than genuine corroboration.

"As an Iranian man living in this environment, Mr Ebrahimi was disadvantaged by the inappropriate responses by Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Bristol City Council to his racist victimisation.

"Representatives of those organisations displayed a distinct lack of understanding of his plight and, accordingly, unwitting prejudice against him.

"More account should have been taken by Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Bristol City Council o fMr Ebrahimi’s isolation and vulnerability as an Iranian man in these circumstances."

PCSO Andrew Passmore (l) and Pc Kevin Duffy (r) were jailed. Credit: PA

Lawyers representing the Ebrahimi family said it was believed to be the first finding of institutional racism against a police force since the publication of the Macpherson report into the Stephen Lawrence murder and the first of its kind against a local authority

Avon & Somerset Chief Constable Andy Marsh said the force had "failed him in his hour of need".

"Once again, I want to offer my sincere apologies to Mr Ebrahimi's family," Chief Constable Marsh said.

"We failed him in his hour of need and I am unreservedly sorry for the pain his family have suffered in the last four years.

"The intervening period since Mr Ebrahimi's tragic and brutal murder has been difficult for everyone involved."

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees also apologised to Mr Ebrahimi's family on behalf of the council.

"We appreciate that no amount of lessons learned or changes in practice can possibly mitigate the impact this had on Bijan and his family," he said.

"However, we assure the family and the public that every effort will continue to be made, building on the considerable work that has already been completed by the council as part of the Safer Bristol Partnership, to further identify how we need to change and improve."