Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence

32.  Memorandum submitted by Superintendent Leroy Logan MBE


  1.1  Firstly, I would like to thank the HAC for the invitation to submit written and oral evidence on such a critical issue. I know that some members of the current HAC will be familiar with my unique perspective, approach and delivery of youth capacity building and self empowerment programmes, and I am appreciative of the awards received and the Commendation from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner for my work. More importantly, I have been working with other change agents to divert young people from anti-social behaviour and criminal activity, and we have achieved some encouraging results through a holistic partnership approach with a relevant and real message that young people can relate to and apply to their daily lives.

  1.2  As a black man of Jamaican heritage born and bred in London over 50 years ago, I am able to use my shared and common experience to give young people opportunities to reassess their beliefs, values and views that shape the attitudes of their families, communities and environment; which in turn shapes their perceptions of the different opinion formers and figures of authority. I am also calling on my experience of over 20 years of operational policing in the London area as a uniformed officer, a third of which has been in the borough of Hackney, and the learning captured from the numerous partnerships I have forged with statutory and voluntary agencies; as well as numerous communities and individuals.

  1.3  I must emphasise that not all of my personal perspectives in this paper reflects MPS policy. Therefore, I ask that you seek my advice beforehand, should any points require clarification in order that we prevent quotes being taken out of perspective, which may have a detrimental effect on the reputation of the MPS. Any data presented is put forward with the best of intention that it was accurate at the time of publishing this document.

  1.4  I am adopting the HAC's definition of black in accordance with the Youth Justice Board categorisation for England and Wales.


  2.1  I do not think I would be doing this subject justice if I did not bring in the historical perspective of how black communities were established in the 1950s and their emergence through significant historical events over the past 50 years. I am also bound to consider whether every opportunity was taken to prevent deep set suspicions and sometimes hatred for statutory agencies, in particular those within the criminal justice system (CJS).

  2.2  It is a well-documented and historic fact the first settlers in post war Britain from the Caribbean were not embraced in the same way they were invited to assist in the war effort during the 1940s. These pioneers were forced into ghettos because of racial prejudices and restrictive access to accommodation, resulting in them being stacked in deprived areas where schools were substandard, employment opportunities were minimal and long term prospects to hold together the family unit were restricted. It was at this early stage that black people started to perceive that they were over policed as potential suspects and under protected as potential victims. It was also a significant point of policing multicultural Britain where there was a consistent manifestation of prejudice with power (police legal authority) leading to racism, in particular through the misuse of the "Sus" law (Section 4 & 6 of the Vagrancy Act 1824). The law caused much discontent and was abolished following riots in Saint Pauls, Bristol, in 1980 and in Brixton, London and Toxteth, Liverpool in 1981, because its abuse was believed to be a contributory factor to these events.

  2.3  Also there was a strong perception that policing was the tool of political intent as a means of restricting racial development and, ultimately, discouraging integration and cohesion. For example, politicians actively discouraged police applications from black candidates because they were not suited to the profession; a form of colour bar captured in parliamentary Hansard reports in the early 1960s. Despite this political/institutional opposition the first Caribbean officer, Norwell Roberts, joined the MPS in 1967. Norwell endured disgraceful acts of overt racism from his colleagues who generated the chill factor of the so called "canteen culture". What signal did that send to the wider black public about police legitimacy? It obviously reinforced their suspicions of police attitudes towards black people, ie if they could treat a black colleague with such contempt, what treatment could people from the black community expect? Therefore other cases, proved in the courts or tribunals, of inequalities in the police service across the country under the media spotlight have continually reinforced black people's suspicions.

  2.4  Subsequently through the formation of the Metropolitan Black Police Association (MBPA) in 1994, the MPS finally acknowledged publicly the inextricable link between community perceptions and internal staff culture; because if you treat your diverse personnel right the organisation is better equipped to serve and meet the needs of the diverse communities of London. Thus enhancing community trust and confidence as well as informing police service delivery. As a founder member of the MBPA I know it was down to the persuasive powers and the strong business case of the Executive, put to a more accountable organisation. The MBPA has gone onto developing an award winning youth leadership programme, with a particular focus on young black people to counteract the growing perceptions they have of the CJS, which they believe is made up of institutionally racist organisations.

  2.5  I know from personal experience as a young man in the 1960s and 70s, I was in fear of the police focusing their efforts at known areas were young black people would gather, such as record stores and barber shops; a cultural transference from the Caribbean. I also experienced members of my family returning to Jamaica because they felt they were being criminalised by structural inequalities eg the disproportionate use of the "Sus" Law, because they were disproportionately being charged and convicted in the courts which automatically put them at a disadvantage in the development of themselves, their families and the wider community in which they live.

  2.6  I learned very quickly from my parents and my peers that groups of black youth in public places, innocent or not, gave police there own reasonable grounds to suspect that some form of criminality was or about to take place, and give cause to be searched and/or arrested, whether a crime was committed or not. Even in private functions, in particular house parties, black people perceived police were targeting them because of the nature of the music and their consistent suspicion of black people, perpetuated by an ignorance of the Caribbean culture. Those who were the victims of such police tactics and remained in London held bitter resentments, which they invariably put behind them in most cases but it still influenced the perceptions of future generations.

  2.7  Attempts were made by the early pioneers to communicate the cultural differences to the statutory bodies through consultation groups, with the intention of informing a more sensitive style of policing through greater cultural awareness and mutual understanding to bridge the cultural divide. These pioneers also had a more conciliatory approach through their respect for authority and their enduring admiration for Britain as the mother of the commonwealth, by constantly asking for the voice of reason within the growing unrest amongst the less tolerant younger generation of black British, to maintain dialogue and not to overreact to the perceived heavy handed style of policing.

  2.8  Unfortunately, the die had already been cast and there was an outpouring of frustration and anger through unrest on the streets of London, leading to the Notting Hill and Brixton riots. As well as peaceful protests for acts of alleged racism connected with deaths in police custody. This legacy was passed from generation to generation, contaminating the minds of many, especially in communities where culture is shaped by circumstances and experience. These circumstances were most commonly based around areas of need and neglect, owing to the community immune system almost entirely broken or weakened by drugs, guns and gangs.


  3.1  These socio-political and economic issues are nothing new and a certain amount of it has been captured in the Scarman and Lawrence inquiry reports published in 1981 and 1999 respectively. The recommendations in both of these reports went some way to addressing black community concerns and wider society attitudes towards minorities. The Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) and the Race Relation (Amendment) Acts (RR(A)A) of 1984 and 2000 respectively, were the legislative developments from these inquiries to increase police accountability and transparency. The latter had a wider remit beyond the police service to include other statutory bodies, in particular other CJS agencies.

  3.2  I was one of the three MBPA members who gave written and oral evidence to the Lawrence inquiry, which was regarded as one the most enlightening submissions. The police service was subsequently classed as an institutionally racist organisation by the published report. Institutional racism (IR) is not the monopoly of the police service and has manifested in other CJS agencies, in addition to other public and private organisations; which begs the question "How did the MPS, other organisations and society as a whole get into this position and could it have been prevented?" Lord Scarman's report stated: "This nation will ignore at it's peril the serious, social and economic problems of inner city areas, the evidence leaves no doubt in my mind that racial disadvantage is a fact of current British life, and that urgent action is needed if it is not to become an endemic ineradicable disease threatening the very survival of our society. Over twenty-five years later can we safely say that these issues have been approached with the urgency it deserves, and are we suffering from complacency and denial?"

  3.3  I know the police service, through the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) has acknowledged the task ahead and has a greater understanding of what needs to done in addressing the challenges posed for an IR organisation. Through Race Equality Schemes (RES), the subsequent action plans and Equality Impact Assessments (EIA) have made dramatic improvements that have pointed the police service in the right direction and, in some ways, moved parts of the organisation to lead public organisations in this area of work. Consequently, the police service in now an organisation better positioned to serve the needs of an ever growing diverse community.

  3.4  Policing legitimacy has been enhanced by the introduction of the Independent Police Complaints Commission that has ensured greater transparency and accountability in the investigation of complaints against police, through their supervision and/or management of internal investigations and their findings published for public scrutiny, especially the complainants.

  3.5  Obviously, there is still a great deal to be done to make the CJS fit for purpose and to sustain an effective level of performance. However, until this position is achieved there will be key issues that will demand in depth and consistent attention eg the overrepresentation of black people in the CJS; which has a direct influence on the relationship between young black people and the CJS. The fact that a HAC is looking at this issue is recognition that there is a gap in performance that needs to be addressed, resulting in a lack of trust in the CJS. Indeed, despite the ongoing danger, some young people believe that their quick fix street justice is now increasingly more relevant.

  3.6  I know of countless examples of young black people who preferred to make no comments and pleaded not guilty until the very last opportunity at court, which eliminated them from other forms of judicial disposals and reprimands beforehand, only because they lack trust in the CJS. Therefore if you compound this with the influence of IR within the CJS it is no surprise that published data (under Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991) shows a continuous trend of disproportionalities; such that black youngsters are more likely to be kept in police custody or on remand and given custodial sentences, and less likely to be cautioned or bailed than their white and Asian counterparts. That is why in some boroughs there are more black youth going to prison than going to university, and black females and males making up 25% and 16% respectively of the national prison population even though black people make up about 5% of the national population.

  3.7  There are other influences that propagate the virus of discontent in the CJS, born from the ubiquitous images of areas of need and neglect that are a permanent fixture in British popular culture in film and TV; in a certain amount of urban music and videos, where the gangster life is glorified and mimicked by young people, mainly by young black men. The news regularly covers the violent outrages in these deprived areas, even though it is the tip of the iceberg, reports of unrest and violent outbursts, makes for popular newspaper copy and appears to breed apathy, a lack of self respect and a perverted mutual respect between those perpetrating such behaviour. Hence violence is the new currency for respect within a minority of youth groups with the potential to severely intimidate the silent majority, leading to different forms of affiliations that can manifest into "Post Code Violence" and other gang related activity (NB Appendix A Anti-Gang Activity paper). These young people can have such extreme manifestations of blind loyalty they see any stranger as a threat, in addition to statutory agencies such as the police and other members of the CJS.

  3.8  The existence of systematic racial discrimination in Britain's education system is the latest in a long line of studies and investigations which point to the less favourable treatment and experiences of black children in comparison to their white counterparts. And the strategies introduced to eradicate racism in our schools has had little effect, which allows the unsupported and more impressionable ones to fall into the hands of the dysfunctional/criminal role models who use this as a means of manipulating young people into crime and anti-social behaviour by perpetuating the labelling phenomenon; that means young black people being deceived into believing they are disruptive and un-teachable in school and criminals on the street, and so the young person believes the only way out is a life of crime and/or anti-social behaviour.

  3.9  The leaked findings of Peter Wanless 2006 report, entitled Getting It. Getting it Right, states "The exclusions gap is caused by largely unwitting, but systematic racial discrimination in the application of disciplinary and exclusions policies." The same report goes on to state that "a compelling case can be made for the existence of `institutional racism' in schools." This addresses to some extent why African Caribbean pupils, in particular boys, are three times more likely than white pupils to be permanently excluded from school and the increased chances—four times—of getting into crime as a result.

  3.10  Pressure must be put on the DfES to hold local education departments, schools and head teachers to account, in a similar way to the Home Office's response when the police service was seen to be institutionally racist despite the existence of challenging targets being set. The current Home Secretary has subsequently declared the Home Office "not fit for purpose" , and it is now clear that agencies within its control will need to be held to greater levels of accountability. I would like to see the same level of leadership taken by the Secretary of State for the DfES with a roots and branch consideration of all; local education departments, school heads and staff, in respect of their delivery on race equality.

  3.11  Black supplementary schools have been in existence for many decades, relying heavily on voluntary workers, donations and fee paying parents. Invariably they are under-resourced and unrecognised for the impact they have for their role in enhancing achievement increasing retention of students and reducing exclusions. They ensure primary and secondary education is more culturally stimulating for the students through the shared and common experience with their black teachers, because they recognise that if they are not continuously stimulated intellectually the students may resort to basic instincts of violence and other forms of disruptive behaviour; also they have more cultural role models in terms of the volunteers that assist the teachers. These schools are crying out to be fully resourced by central government, and so the DfES should be prioritising the establishment of a national strategy to co-ordinate Supplementary Schools of different cultures and backgrounds with mainstream education. Additional funds and consistent resources must now be invested in the African and Caribbean Supplementary Schools to reverse the current trends detailed above in order that we fulfill the academic, social, moral and self-empowering potential in young black people.

  3.12  The most authentic and reliable data for gang related activity within the black community of London is captured through the Operation Trident command unit. In 2006 65% of gun victims across London were dealt with by Trident, which shows gun homicides are disproportionately concentrated within black communities when considering only 13% of Londoners are black. Associated with this is a lack of co-operation with police, as highlighted by the 2006 CJS report on The experiences of young black men as victims of crime where it states improving the experience of black victims is essential in order to improve both the police and the wider CJS.

  3.13  Over 70% of black communities live in the top 10 most deprived boroughs in London that invariably show a lack of community cohesion; fractured families with a significant number of absent fathers. Knowing that life chances are greatly influenced by parental circumstances it is not surprising that outcomes include; a lack of self motivation, under achievement at school, lack of job prospects and a lack of hard work ethics; leading to a disproportionate number of young black people resorting to crime in response to both financial and social needs. The result, increased prison sentences and high reoffending rates. In essence, a vicious and prophetic cycle of events which presents black society with the fruits of poverty and inherited disadvantages that can be traced back to early Caribbean settlers, mirroring the American experience of African American young people self-destructing in the urban areas of despondency and destitution.


  4.1  After looking at the socio-political issues which challenge our society today, I believe the main themes can be sub-divided into (i) area of concern, (ii) causes, (iii) symptoms and signs and (iv) solutions.

  4.2  The fundamental, if not historic concerns, are issues of poor education, low economic investment and inferior housing, all of which persist as root causes of inequality for the vast majority of our target group, ie young black people.

  4.3  The table below proposes a list of interventions supported by a critical mass of change agents with a shared and common experience working with the target group. The aim of these recommendations is to combine leadership and political will with a view to producing a cadre of relevant practitioners; ie dealers in hope for the black community working locally to engender a good work ethic; pride in the local community; building stronger families with each member striving for significance; and moving against a sad acceptance of crime and anti-social behaviour in their environment without making attempts to prevent or solve it, hand-in-hand with statutory and voluntary agencies (Appendix B).


  5.1  I know I have taken a significant part of this paper to look at the historical issues to assist in recognising the legacy of resentment fuelled by ignorance and fear, and how it influences current perceptions. In response to these challenges, there needs to be a dynamic and significant range of innovative investment aimed at delivering solutions which regenerate the people themselves in numerous ways and not just the buildings they are surrounded by. Both central and local government need to play their role in supporting those culturally sensitive, successful and accredited programmes of capacity building and self empowerment.

  5.2  As a black man born and brought up in London by working class parents of Jamaican heritage, I believe the time has now arrived for the black community to collectively be afforded and assume a greater leadership role by working with increased resources, towards addressing some of the fundamental issues that have traditionally blighted our families and communities. By putting aside past resentments, adopting a more solution focused approach and working more regularly with statutory and voluntary agencies, sustainable and consistent change will come.

  5.3  I hope the recommendations from the HAC has the ability to hold the statutory agencies to account to fully implement their RES and related action plans and necessary equality impact assessments, to ensure their outputs and outcomes are fit for purpose to all sections of society with the backing of the CRE/CEHR over the coming years. The position we find ourselves in, especially the deteriorating relationship between young black people and the CJS, has developed over decades. I have no doubt that it will take a sustained and co-ordinate effort over a reasonable period of time to reverse the current trend. However, if we get a grip of things now and maintain coherent, holistic and shared strategies which are supported via sustainable funding, I am confident that we can make that journey together.

  5.4  Finally, a word of caution, we cannot buy our way out of these problems. In 1981 Lord Scarman recommended: "There needs to be governmental policy that attacks racial disadvantage that inevitably means that ethnic minorities will enjoy a time of positive discrimination in their favour, but it is a price worth paying". I do not believe this finding has yet been fully implemented, and, even though it may be twenty five years overdue, there is no time like the present to take these recommendations forward.

  5.5  These closing remarks are especially pertinent at this time and in this year, ie Britain's commemorative bi-centenary of the abolition of the Slave Trade Act [25th March 1807].

Superintendent Leroy Logan

Deputy Borough Commander

Hackney Police

February 2007

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