University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

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The Badger

ByThe Badger

Jan 19, 2009

A special constable in Brighton has resigned following the exposure of an online blog containing racist remarks and threats to an unnamed love rival.  The trainee, Rob Johnston, 22, was forced into the position when The Argus alerted Sussex Police bosses to the online blog which has subsequently been removed from the Internet.  A spokesman for Sussex Police described the comments as “wholly disappointing.”

Amongst the people said to annoy him most are “Americans (all of them)”, “Muslims” and “Chavs”.  Worryingly, he said of “teenagers with an attitude problem, chavs or emo’s or whatever” that “I love eyeballing them and making them squirm.” Mr Johnston also made direct violent threats to his love rival warning them that “I will do anything, no matter what it takes, to protect what matters to me” and that he “will act on any suspicion.” It is ironic considering that his own blog warned of the dangers of posting on the Internet.

The small-minded attitude of the officer comes at a bad time for the Police with the recent report, “Police and Racism: What has been achieved 10 Years after the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry?” the famous case that led to the force being accused of institutional racism.  The review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that Black and Asian police officers continue to feel that specialist squads such as firearms, robbery and anti-terrorist were “closed shops” only open to whose “face fits” and are therefore dominated by middle-aged white men.

Although there was good progress in the recruitment of ethnic minority officers, retention rates were low in 2007 with 6.1% leaving or being sacked within six months of service compared with 3.1% for their white counterparts.  Similarly, there were disparities in the levels of promotion compared with white colleagues.
Highlighting the problem is a report to the Commission of a remark by the head of equality and diversity training with one of the country’s largest police forces.  Following the appointment of a black officer to the position of trainer he said “that’s good, I got my black one”.  Upon later learning that the officer was gay he said “you haven’t got a wooden leg have you?  Then you’d have the full set.”

‘Although there was good progress in the recruitment of ethnic minority officers, retention rates were low in 2007’

The report also discovered that a disproportionate amount of black and Asian people continued to be subject to being stopped and searched in the majority of areas.  Black people are seven times more likely and Asians twice as likely to be stopped compared to white people and this figure has changed little in 15 years.

John Wadham, from the Equality and Human Rights Commission said “Ten years on from the inquiry into the handling of his death (Stephen Lawrence), we welcome the significant improvements the police have made in the way they deal with race…  However, there are worrying areas which the police need to address – such as changing the canteen culture and properly monitoring stop and search and the DNA database – if they are to continue to make improvements.”

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