Indian origin policeman Neil Basu, head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terror operations, stated that there have been many changes to the UK Police Force since the 1999 Stephen Lawrence Inquiry that concluded that the force was ‘institutionally racist’, citing his own career as an example.
The inquiry, published two decades ago, looked into one of the most high-profile incidents of race-related crimes contemporary Britain, when Lawrence, a teenager of Afro-Caribbean origin, was murdered in a racially motivated attack in April 1993.
Basu noted its key conclusion and insisted that “in my opinion we are not institutionally racist today”, citing the increase in the number of Scotland Yard personnel of non-white heritage.
“Few inquiries have received such attention or can claim to have been so transformational by exposing inequalities so familiar to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities – inequalities that exist throughout our society, but were most acutely seen through the lens of policing”.
“It was particularly painful to be a BAME officer at that time, (less than two per cent of us were). For the failings of an organisation you love to be exposed so publicly was, I’m not ashamed to say, a little heart-breaking”, Basu said.
However, citing changes in the force after the inquiry, Basu added that if he suspected it was still the case, or if he thought Scotland Yard was institutionally racist, “I would give up and resign tomorrow”.
“No matter what we sometimes think, being a person of BAME heritage today is better than when my dad emigrated here from India in 1961. It’s better than when I was at school, university or first in employment through the ‘70s and ‘80s”.
Basu, who is of BAME and white British heritage and the senior-most BAME officer in Scotland Yard, has been in the forefront of investigating and briefing the news media on recent terror attacks in London and the United Kingdom.