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Met probes officers after Travellers ‘find Facebook race hate’

THE Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) confirmed it was investigating staff yesterday after the Traveller community discovered an secret online forum where officers allegedly exchanged racist views.

According to a spokesman for the London force, “concerns” were raised with the force’s professional standards directorate over comments made on a Facebook group.

Traveller community representatives contacted the police last month to say that they had found racist comments in a discussion about the BBC’s decision to clear former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson for the use of the word “pikey.”

Black Activists Against Cuts co-chair Zita Holbourne told the Star that the revelations were shocking and disgusting.

“This will just add to a host of reasons as to why black and migrant communities have no faith in the police,” said Ms Holbourne.

“The use of derogatory terms to describe a particular race or culture should not be tolerated by anyone, least of all the police forces who are supposed to uphold the law and prevent race hatred.

“This latest development is indicative of how deep rooted and embedded institutional racism is in police forces.”

Traveller Movement chief executive Yvonne MacNamara echoed the sentiment, saying that the community had “no confidence at all in the Metropolitan Police’s ability to both police these communities and to attract and protect its own staff who are from Gypsy and Traveller backgrounds.”

Privacy settings on the Facebook group are set to “secret” but the Met confirmed that it counted “former and serving MPS officers among its members.”

However, a full inquiry is only expected to take place if evidence is found of acts of misconduct or a criminal offence.

“The best way of tackling this kind of conduct remains sacking officers who treat people as second-class citizens simply because of their race, ethnicity or immigration status,” said Network for Police Monitoring co-ordinator Kevin Blowe.

“Anyone surprised that comments in a closed Facebook group confirm police racism has never gone away really hasn’t been listening closely enough to monitoring groups or the experiences of thousands of young black people on the streets.”

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