Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rageh Omaar - warning: contains language many will find offensive. Words by ITV News Producer Nathan Lee
The death of George Floyd in the United States quite rightly shone a spotlight on police forces across the world, how they act in regards to the public and also importantly, how they act internally.
As of March 2020, BAME officers represent 7.3% of all officers, that’s fewer than 10,000 people.
At the time of the last census in 2011, 13% of the UK population was BAME, about 8 million people - with that figure expected to rise next year. This shows the disproportionality of representation within the police workforce.
We have now found that two thirds of police forces have had racial discrimination claims made against them over the past two years by their own staff. Coupled with our earlier investigation, which found that 70% of BAME police have been racially abused on the job - it is little wonder that there is a sense of disillusion amongst some BAME police at the moment, in a time when racial tension is on the agenda like never before.
Andy George, an inspector in the Police Force of Northern Ireland, said: “I definitely think there is still institutional racism. I know it’s not a term that most people like within policing, they see it as unhelpful.
"But for me, whether you call it institutional racism, systemic racism, or whether you’re just calling it a bias in the system that works against black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, there’s something there that is constantly creating these disproportions.”
His quotes are stark, almost shocking in 2020 - but he’s not alone either.
We also spoke to Kevin Maxwell, who left the Metropolitan Police in 2012 after the Met was found guilty at an employment tribunal of discriminating against Kevin on 40 different occasions because of the colour of his skin and his sexuality.
He says he was forced out of the police and would not recommend any BAME officer putting their head above the parapet, because the experience of going through a grievance hearing and an employment tribunal was almost as bad as the racism and homophobia itself.
Shabnam Chaudhri told us racism blighted her career for 30 years, ultimately forcing her to retire from the job she loved and dreamed of five years early.
Winning a racial discrimination claim is particularly hard. In the whole country last year, only 28 people who brought a race complaint actually ended up with compensation - and that’s out of everyone, not just the police.
“The current system is not fit for purpose,” Lawrence Davies told us. He is a human rights lawyer and has represented dozens of police officers in racial discrimination tribunals.
Through research done by his law firm Equal justice, he estimates that just 1% of people who suffer discrimination in the workplace complain about it officially.
That’s because, he says, often when a claim is made, that person is seen as a ‘troublemaker’ or ‘playing the race card’. He also tells us that often, a counter claim is made against that person after he initial grievance, often in the police’s case - of gross misconduct. Of the three serving and ex officers we spoke to who made racial discrimination claims - each and every one then had a counter claim made against them by the force of gross misconduct.
From the police officers we spoke to, they all said the same thing about their racial discrimination claims - that at the point of raising a grievance, it needs to be an independent body that looks at your case.
At the moment, that isn’t what’s happening - resulting in BAME officers going in front of dozens of their own, often white, officers telling them of their lived experience of racism - for the ‘judiciary’ to decide whether they are right or wrong before the claim being escalated to an employment tribunal.
Police, at the grievance stage of a racial discrimination claim, are judge, jury and commentator.
“When it’s police policing police - we never get things right,” Andy George tells us.
He is also the President of the National Black Police Association which is recommending that when internal grievances arise, an independent body - not the police - needs to investigate objectively.
In a statement, the Metropolitan police said: “We want everyone who works for the Met to have full confidence in how internal grievance complaints are managed.
“We don’t believe we are a racist organisation.”
Whilst the Police Service of Northern Ireland told us: "We recognise that it can be difficult for any staff to raise grievances in an organisation. We are currently reviewing our procedures to ensure it has the confidence of the entire workforce.”