Leicestershire Police labelled ‘institutionally racist’ after Stephen Lawrence memorial tree dies

Mansfield House Police Station, Leicester (Photo: Rosie Vacciana-Browne)

By Rosie Vacciana-Browne

Leicestershire Police Force has been labelled ‘institutionally racist’ by a leading black officer speaking at a Home Affairs Committee hearing this week.

The president of the National Black Police Association, Sergeant Tola Munro, made the accusation on Tuesday after a tree, planted at Leicestershire Police’s Headquarters to commemorate the 25th anniversary of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence’s death, was damaged.

Sgt Munro said: “There was feedback, from what we would call white privilege, about the tree being planted in their garden.

“Sadly, that tree is now damaged. And that by our own colleagues … I believe Leicestershire Police is institutionally racist.”

He made his comments during an inquiry hearing to mark the 20th anniversary of The MacPherson Report into Stephen Lawrence’s murder.

The report looked into the investigation by the London Metropolitan Police that followed the unprovoked racial attack and murder of Stephen Lawrence in Eltham in 1993.

The MacPherson Report highlighted some major issues within the police force and its ‘institutional racism’. The purpose of the hearing on Tuesday was to look at the progress made to improve this.

Leicestershire Police Force has since denied Sgt Munro’s claims and stated that in a meeting with him prior to Tuesday there was no discussion of them.

A police spokesperson said: “The suggestion that this tree was vandalised was thoroughly investigated and concluded that the extreme heat of the summer was the most likely cause of the damage…the tree has been replaced.”

The force is seeking an urgent meeting with the NBPA to discuss the claims.

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