John Sentamu

The truth about the police’s ‘institutional racism’

The truth about the police's 'institutional racism'
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It is 25 years since Stephen Lawrence was murdered in a London suburb, solely because he was black. The subsequent Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, chaired by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, which I helped to compile, uncovered in this particular case, ‘institutional racism’ in the Metropolitan Police. That carefully chosen wording has been misquoted ever since. We did not say that police were institutionally racist, as if it were official police policy to stigmatise black people. It was — and clearly still is — more subtle. Institutional racism is the product of unwitting prejudice, ignorance, carelessness, stereotyping and a reluctance to change. That aggregates to a festering prejudice. And it’s widespread. Try this Q&A test. Q: How many Anglicans are people of colour? A: Most of them. Whoops!

John Sentamu is the Archbishop of York. This article is an extract from his notebook, available in The Spectator Christmas issue