There was confusion in the Metropolitan Police after the Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, ordered all officers not to stand for racism in its ranks but then went on to say they should not take it lying down either.
The commissioner compounded the confusion by telling journalists that the Metropolitan Police from now on would be ‘bending over backwards’ to deal with the problem of racist police officers.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said:
We’re completely confused. There is an urgent need for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to clarify his advice. What exactly should police officers do when they come across racism – sit, lie down or bend over?
The mix up over what stance police officers should take when dealing with racist colleagues comes amidst accusations that the police have not been taking racism in its ranks seriously enough. To underline the importance of the issue, Hogan-Howe said that the Metropolitan Police would be setting precise guidelines for what posture officers should assume when confronted with racism by their colleagues:
We understand the concerns many members of the community have on the issue of how officers stand on the subject of racism. Correct posture is a very important issue which if ignored will only fester away and result in officers having very sore backs in years to come. So I am happy to reassure the public that from now on we will ensure that officers will not stand at all for racism, they will in future remain sitting instead.
The Commissioner also warned that hands on hips, folded arms or crossed legs will no longer be tolerated by officers in the face of racism:
It is essential that police officers are always professional and above reproach when it comes to what stance they assume when they hear their colleagues being racist and that is why we intend to introduce strict new standards of training which will involve rigorous shoulder and back exercises, compulsory Pilates sessions for every officer below the rank of Sergeant and maybe even a spot of yoga.
A spokesperson for groups which are campaigning against racism in the police say the new reforms will not go far enough to stamp out the scourge of racism in the police:
We’re not in the least bit surprised by the Commissioner’s statement. Everyone knows most police officers are so bent they’d find it easy to bend over backwards to do anything. And even in that position, they’d still probably manage to pocket wads of cash from any tabloid journalist who happens to be passing.
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