‘Institutionally racist’ culture in Scottish police

Police Scotland is “institutionally racist” and “discriminatory”, the force’s chief constable said on Thursday, after a review into its culture.

The admission by Iain Livingstone comes with wider concern about UK police, notably at the country’s largest force, the Metropolitan Police in London.

The independent review into Police Scotland, published on Wednesday, uncovered accounts of racism, sexism and homophobia by serving officers.

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“The right thing for me to do as chief constable (is) to clearly state that institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exist,” said Livingstone.

Police under scrutiny

“Police Scotland is institutionally racist and discriminatory,” he told the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), a government body which oversees the police.

Police Scotland is facing an ongoing public inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh, a black man who died while being restrained by six officers while in custody.

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It is looking into whether race played a part in the death of Bayoh, 31, in the town of Kirkcaldy north of Edinburgh in 2015.

Earlier this month several women, who formerly served as officers, spoke of a “boys club” culture operating through all ranks within Police Scotland.

The SPA review group report outlined claims of ongoing discrimination against minority communities, and first-hand accounts of racism, sexism and homophobia.

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A degree of scepticism and even outright fear about raising concerns existed in the Scottish police, it added.

“We heard of people being ‘punished’ for raising issues or concerns, for example being sidelined within teams or moved to a less convenient location,” it stated.

London Police reform

In March UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for “top to bottom” reform of London’s Metropolitan Police, after similar findings were made.

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The review, written by government official Louise Casey, was commissioned after the kidnap, rape and murder of a woman by serving officer Wayne Couzens in 2021, which shocked the nation.

Couzens was jailed for life. Since then another officer, David Carrick, has been sentenced to life in prison for dozens of rapes and sexual assaults, hitting already flagging public trust.

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Casey, who found there was “institutional racism, sexism and homophobia” in the Met, said the force had to “change itself”.

In 1999, the Met was accused of institutional racism because of its botched response to the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

© Agence France-Presse