Racial issues probed

Jacqui Cheer temporary Chief Constable of Cleveland Police. Picture by FRANK REID
Jacqui Cheer temporary Chief Constable of Cleveland Police. Picture by FRANK REID

CLEVELAND Police have confirmed “racial issues” within the force are being probed by an internal investigation.

The force commissioned an internal report looking at ethnic minority issues within the force.

Temporary Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer instigated the inquiry due to racial issues being raised prior to her taking control of the force.

Ms Cheer said initial findings of the report had flagged up similarities between issues in the force and the definition of institutional racism from an investigation into claims against the Metropolitan Police.

But there was no evidence that the force or any staff members were racist “in their dealings with the public”.

Ms Cheer said it was processes requiring improvement rather than problems with individual officers.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond, who is also chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, did not want to be drawn into the controversy and would not comment until the report is finalised and published in the summer.

Ms Cheer said: “Cleveland Police is committed to ensuring equality and human rights within the work-place; it values diversity and works towards elimination of discrimination and exclusionary behaviour.

“Following some concerns raised, I appointed a team to look at the extent that black and minority ethnic (BME) officers and staff within Cleveland Police may be subject to work-place discrimination.

“A number of aspects of the force have been examined and interviews with relevant staff have taken place.”

The initial findings come just days after former traffic officer Sultan Alam was awarded £800,000 compensation by the force after being wrongfully jailed over a malicious prosecution brought by colleagues in 1996.

Mr Alam served half of his 18-month sentence before his conviction was overturned and was reinstated before retiring on health grounds in 2009.

Charges of perverting the course of justice made against four senior officers were later dropped in 2004.

She added: “The review is timely and necessary due to the recent implementation of the Equality Act 2010, which has combined a number of key pieces of legislation making the law consistent, clearer and easier to understand. The Act also places an emphasis on personal responsibility to deal with discriminatory behaviour.

“An interim report has been produced and there is a resonance between the initial findings and the definition of institutional racism as set out in the Macpherson report. These findings relate largely to the application of internal policies and procedures, and are being looked into in more detail by the force, so that recommendations can be formed and implemented to fully address these issues.

“The review has not provided any evidence to suggest that the force or individuals within it are racist in their dealings with the public. The review is a positive move for the force and it is important to ensure that everyone gets an equal chance to fulfil their potential and be treated with respect and dignity.”