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Metropolitan Police: Stephen Lawrence Murder Investigation

Volume 736: debated on Wednesday 12 July 2023

[Philip Davies in the Chair]

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the Metropolitan Police investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies. I will start, as is fitting, by paying tribute to Doreen and Neville Lawrence. Time after time, they have faced setback after setback, yet they continue to campaign with dignity for justice for their murdered son. It is a dignity that puts the shabby performance of the Met to shame. We can only imagine the anger and frustration that they feel, having to endure another revelation that yet again exposes the failings of the investigation into Stephen’s murder and raises the suspicion that corruption hampered it from the start.

Stephen Lawrence was murdered in Eltham on 22 April 1993. One of my first acts on becoming a Member of Parliament was to table a question in the House calling for a public inquiry into the investigation into Stephen’s murder. I pay tribute to my former colleague John Austin, who supported me in doing so. Despite the stench of corruption that surrounded the case from the start, the Macpherson inquiry did not conclude that corruption hampered the investigation. Despite many revelations and investigations along the way, corruption has always been denied.

We are here today thanks to the excellent detective work of two people: the BBC reporter Daniel De Simone, who uncovered evidence that was originally ignored and spoke to key witnesses exposing the failings of the original inquiry, and Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll, whose outstanding work along with his team secured the convictions of David Norris and Gary Dobson in 2012 and uncovered other vital information. The culmination of their combined efforts is that the Met has been forced to accept that Matthew White is a suspect in the attack and is likely to have been the blond-haired sixth attacker.

Last week, the Crown Prosecution Service decided that four officers would not face prosecution for failures in public office for their part in the now discredited police investigation. In 2014, another officer, Detective Sergeant John Davidson, was also exonerated of charges. In a 2006 documentary about the murder of Stephen Lawrence, Davidson was described by then Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates as one of the most corrupt officers in the Met. In 1998, Yates was head of Operation Russia, an investigation into a syndicate of corrupt officers in the south-east regional crime squad.

One of the officers under investigation, Neil Putnam, turned supergrass. He disclosed in his evidence a link between DS Davidson and Clifford Norris—the father of David Norris, who murdered Stephen Lawrence. Yates wrote of their association in a memo to the Met while the Macpherson inquiry was still taking evidence. Putnam claims that he understood that his testimony about the link between Norris and Davidson would be reported to the inquiry. The information from Yates and Putnam was not passed to the inquiry. The Met disputes Putnam’s claim that he told his handlers of that link, but Putnam repeated it under oath.

I contacted the Met and demanded to know why Yates had accused DS Davidson of corruption in a programme about the murder of Stephen Lawrence. I pointed out that the Macpherson inquiry had not concluded that corruption had hampered the investigation. I was invited to Scotland Yard to meet the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Cressida Dick; I was not permitted to meet John Yates. I was assured that the Met did indeed believe Davidson to be an extremely corrupt officer, but that that did not have anything to do with the Stephen Lawrence investigation. I asked why the Met chose to make that statement in a programme about Stephen Lawrence if it had nothing to do with the investigation. I never got a satisfactory answer. The Met suggested to me that it used the programme to call out Davidson, which I took to be further evidence of the contempt it had for this case.

In 1998, Martin Polaine, a Crown Prosecution Service barrister, was put in charge of reviewing police corruption evidence from Operation Russia. In a corruption proceeding, he told the Old Bailey of a

“recollection I was told by someone in CIB3 of a link between Clifford Norris and Davidson.”

CIB3 was the unit conducting Operation Russia. He also said that when this information was passed to him in late ’98, it was considered “of great significance”.

David Hamilton was the head of legal affairs at the Met at that time. In a witness statement to a recent corruption inquiry, he recalled

“a suspicion of an association or contact between Davidson and the Norris family”.

In 2000, he wrote:

“Disclosures relevant to Davidson’s contact with the Norris family could have an adverse effect on the Commissioner’s position in the ongoing High Court action by Mr and Mrs Lawrence.”

Stephen’s family immediately asked for an investigation into the 1998 revelations, which was carried out by the IPCC. It concluded that Putnam, Hamilton and Polaine—an experienced police officer and two senior barristers—were confusing Norris with another member of the Norris family who had been killed two years before Stephen’s murder. That is despite all three stating that that was not correct. Davidson is central to the failure of the original investigation. He handled a key witness, whose information could have identified Matthew White in the first couple of days of the investigation.

Why is the recent identification of Matthew White so significant? Because, of all the attackers, he stood out among the witnesses’ descriptions. He was the one they could describe in detail. Duwayne Brooks, who was with Stephen and was closest to him when he was attacked, always stated that the first attacker was the one he could remember the most and could identify. He has since confirmed that he believes that Matthew White was that person. He described him as having frizzy light brown or blond hair that came down over his ears—completely different from the other attackers. When the evidence is re-read in the light of the BBC findings, it becomes apparent that identifying White would have been key to solving the case at the very start. To put it another way, anyone wanting to hamper the inquiry would want to ensure that Matthew White was never identified as the sixth attacker.

The day after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, James Grant—not his real name—walked into a police station to give information. Such was the detail of his information that it should have been clear to the officers that Grant either was a suspect or had been talking to someone who was present at Stephen’s murder. James Grant was not properly registered as an informant, despite having spoken several times to DS Davidson. In 1997, Grant was interviewed by Kent police, who were called in to carry out a review of the original investigation. He said that he had told his handler DS Davidson back in 1993 that his source was Matthew White. DS Davidson denied that, and the Macpherson inquiry accepted his denial. When that fact was later relayed to the detective in charge of the case, Detective Superintendent Brian Weeden, he expressed shock.

In the two weeks after Stephen’s murder, Matthew White was photographed coming out of a house that was under surveillance. Despite the fact that the descriptions of the sixth attacker matched White, he was not arrested or questioned as a suspect. He was mentioned in the Macpherson report as Witness K but, because he was not considered a suspect, his alibi was never questioned. The BBC has demonstrated that his alibi cannot be true. Even Macpherson himself said that White was a significant person. The final report of the Macpherson inquiry said that Grant’s information

“might have provided the key to the solution of the case in quick time. This was because James Grant’s source was close to the suspects, if he was not involved with them himself.”

In 1997, Kent police asked one of the original investigating officers whether they had ever investigated White. He said:

“I can’t really answer that. I didn’t think after those lines”—

whatever that means. One of Kent’s conclusions was that White should be investigated. That was never done. Both Macpherson and Kent police could see that Matthew White was a potential suspect, but the Met failed to act.

The BBC interviewed an informant called Witness Purple. In 1999, Witness Purple gave evidence to the police with details of the attack on Stephen that could only have come from someone who was there. In 2000, White was arrested and questioned about Purple’s information. The police read Purple’s statement to White, at the same time revealing Purple’s identity. Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll told the BBC that that was

“alerting the bad guys…and that cannot be good police work.”

White made no comment in answer and was let go. What could possibly be gained by letting a suspect know the identity of someone giving information against them, other than to silence that informant? Purple stopped co-operating.

Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll began investigating Stephen’s murder in 2006. It was his excellent work that resulted in the convictions of Dobson and Norris in 2012. The day after the convictions, his then superior officer Cressida Dick told him not to bother going after the other suspects. That was despite the judge urging him to do so. Driscoll and his team, to their credit, continued to investigate. He uncovered a vital statement that had been ignored in the original investigation. He discovered that Jack Severs, the stepfather of Matthew White, had given evidence via a friend who was a serving police officer, stating that Matthew White knew more than he had told the police and that he had been present at Stephen’s murder.

That only happened eventually, because the wrong name was recorded for the stepfather. Mr Severs’s information was passed to the investigation team, but was not followed up until 20 years later, when Chief Inspector Driscoll tracked down White’s stepfather, Mr Severs. He confirmed that White had told him that he had been at the murder scene. The BBC found that that information was given to Detective Inspector Brian Weeden, who was in charge of the investigation. That was confirmed in Brian Weeden’s notebook. A meeting with White was planned but never happened.

Consider this for a moment: the officer in charge of a major investigation is contacted by a fellow officer, with information coming from a relative of an individual who, he claims, was present at the murder scene—and it is forgotten. The conclusion of the Macpherson inquiry was that incompetence, not corruption, hampered the investigation. But what the police were expert at, so many times, was mishandling information relating to Matthew White. Can it be explained by incompetence?

Why was James Grant not properly recorded as an informant? Why did the detail of Grant’s evidence not lead officers to ask where it came from? Why was the evidence from Matthew White’s stepfather overlooked for 20 years? How did the wrong name for the stepfather come to be recorded? Why was finding the blond-haired sixth attacker not given priority from the outset? Why was the similarity between White and the witnesses’ descriptions not noted?

Why was White not picked up for questioning after he was photographed coming out of a house that was under surveillance soon after the murder? Why was the link between Grant and White never made by the investigation? Why was the Kent police’s recommendation to investigate White never acted on? Why was Witness Purple’s identity given to Matthew White when Matthew White was being interviewed as a possible suspect? Why did Cressida Dick order Driscoll not to bother investigating the other suspects? Why did she state, when she shut down the ongoing investigation into Stephen’s murder,

“There were no viable lines of inquiry”?

Will the Met now apologise and accept that that was not true? Why was Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll forced to retire when he had uncovered more discarded evidence that warranted further investigation and has resulted in Matthew White being named as the sixth suspect?

All of this means that there should be a further inquiry, which must be completely independent of the Met. What has been exposed goes beyond incompetence. We cannot leave it here.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) for setting out the historical account, the present situation, the severe failings of the Met police and—as he well said—the corruption that has taken place. I would also like to add that Baroness Lawrence is with us in the Chamber.

The 1999 Macpherson report stated that the investigation was

“marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers.”

If that report were reviewed in the light of the information that has recently been brought to our attention, it would probably include the word “corruption” as well. Over the decades, the Met should have used the Macpherson report as an opportunity to change. It contains 70 key recommendations for our society to show zero tolerance of racism and discrimination. The Home Affairs Committee’s 2021 report assessing the progress of the recommendations, some of which are still outstanding, concluded that

“there is a significant problem with confidence in the police within Black communities.”

Black communities continue to be under-protected and over-controlled by the police, as has been stated by Robert Reiner, a well-known criminologist.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) for his steadfast work on this case and for his speech. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) agree that we are witnessing a deep-rooted cancer of corruption within the Metropolitan police? It appears to be still alive and kicking. After hearing everything that my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham said in his speech, does my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East agree that we need three things? The Met needs to be dismantled once and for all, we absolutely need an independent inquiry into this, and the Met commissioner must now be held to account for these actions. This cannot go on any longer. Justice is not being served for the Lawrence family.

I thank my hon. Friend for her significant contribution. There is clearly disruption and corruption in the Met police; we know that from the recent Casey review and, actually, from many other reviews that I will mention. Where corruption, concealment, cover-up and unnecessary distress have been caused to black communities and the Lawrence family, the police commissioners need to be held to account for the fact that they did not do their job properly. Why did they not do their job properly in the first place?

The Scarman report back in 1981 should have been a chance for the police to progress and change. That, too, was a missed opportunity. I have already mentioned the Casey review, which found the Met police to be institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic.

To add insult to injury, a BBC investigation published last month found, as we have heard, that there is evidence of a sixth suspect, Matthew White, being involved in the Stephen Lawrence murder, but that line of inquiry was mishandled by the police at the time. Furthermore, it was announced last week that former Met officers will face no further action over their roles in the 1993 investigation into Stephen’s death. That should all be reopened and looked at again because of the corrupt situation that we now know has taken place. To be fair, I am sure we already knew that; it is just that it has been revealed by the BBC.

Last week’s decision must be causing unnecessary frustration and distress to the Lawrence family—I am very sorry for that—and the wider community. Where is justice? Why do black lives not matter more than they do at present? The police should be doing their job properly. What are we to expect from them in the future?

The Met needs to change. It must use the events of this year as motivation to reform. It must not fail to address its shortcomings, as it did in 1999 and in 1981. I therefore join Baroness Lawrence in calling for police officers under investigation for disciplinary offences to hand over data from their personal mobile phones. More investigation needs to take place, and more needs to happen to uncover corruption and bring about real justice.

My hon. Friend is making a powerful speech, and I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) for securing the debate. One thing that strikes me from conversations with constituents is the slow pace of reforms in the Met police. People are asking for a review of the police conduct and performance legislation, and of the Independent Office for Police Conduct. There have been recent issues with the IOPC—particularly with the person who was heading it up—and a massive lack of trust. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) agree that those things should be looked at in order to regain trust and reform the police system?

I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting the many areas where the police and the IOPC are failing. Obviously, the IOPC must not fail, because it needs to be independent and to be able to investigate situations. Those concerns obviously need to be addressed.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) and the Mayor of London have published a draft Bill, backed by Baroness Lawrence, that would overhaul the regulations governing police conduct and dismissal, and would address some of the issues that my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Abena Oppong-Asare) raised. That intervention is welcome and, in particular, I back its provision to introduce a new duty of candour so that police officers report wrongdoing.

The Macpherson report on the death of Stephen Lawrence highlighted the severe corruption in the Met police, but it is important to point out that not everybody in the Met is corrupt. Some people who join the Met police want to do the right thing and bring about justice. Unfortunately, we see time and again that that is not happening for black individuals, families and communities, and that needs to be addressed.

Faith in our police needs to be restored urgently and we need bold reforms. The Lawrence case was one of the first high-profile examples of knife crime in our society. However, we all know that knife crime has got much worse. Although the police have a responsibility to address that, it is not for them alone; the Government need to step up to ensure that it is being dealt with. There are much wider issues to address in rooting out knife crime. What causes children and young people to carry knives? Why do young people feel so unsafe that they carry knives? Why do they risk harming themselves and others? What is behind all that? Ultimately, why do they risk getting involved in the criminal justice system or, worse, losing their own lives or causing somebody else to pass away?

I invite the Minister to set out what the Government plan to do to secure justice for Stephen Lawrence’s family and right the wrongs of past investigations. Will the Government introduce in Parliament the draft Bill created by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham and by the Mayor of London?

I found it difficult to sleep last night, thinking about this debate. Knowing that Baroness Lawrence is here today makes the debate very difficult for me. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) for highlighting all the mistakes and the corruption, some of which will be new to people who have not heard about it, and for his work to try to secure justice over a number of years.

The murder of Stephen Lawrence was brutal, and he was murdered by white racist thugs. I remember feeling quite sickened at the thought that a teenager who was just like me and my siblings, with a very similar background, had been murdered while he was waiting for a bus. It made us feel in the community that if he was not safe, none of us was safe. I remember those years.

Baroness Lawrence and Neville Lawrence fought a really hard campaign to get justice for their son Stephen. Even though they were fighting a system built on racism and white supremacy, they continued fighting. They were fighting not knowing that they were being spied on. They had full surveillance on them. They were being tracked by the police, so that the police could try to find something on them. Just imagine how clean and law-abiding the Lawrence family are for the police not to have found anything on them.

If the police had found something on the Lawrence family, it would have been in the papers and the press, and they would have highlighted it, because that is how the establishment and institutional racism works. They wanted to sow the seed of doubt, but there was no seed of doubt to be sown, because they found nothing. Just imagine that the police were working so hard to discredit a black family grieving the loss of their eldest son and their brother. They worked harder trying to discredit a black family than they did trying to convict the murderers.

One of the murderer’s dads was already in prison. These murderers did not come from the perfect family. They were known as the Krays of Eltham, and they revelled in that, but the police spent time trying to discredit Baroness Lawrence and her family. Every single time a new report comes out or the police fail to act or the IOPC fails to act, it traumatises the Lawrence family and the community, because justice delayed is justice denied.

I remember that moment in 1999, some six years after Stephen was murdered, when the public inquiry launched by the Labour Government concluded with the publishing of the Macpherson report. The words “institutionally racist” were indelibly stamped on the public consciousness. Stephen’s tragic murder and the subsequent bungling of its investigation by the Met police revealed to the rest of the country what many of us already knew, and some of us had the misfortune to recognise it from first-hand experience. That includes me, my brothers, my sister and my cousins. I have just written a book, and I have journeyed back through lots of incidents that have happened in my life. As I put them forward to go in the book, the publisher said, “That’s enough now, Dawn; you need to stop.” She then came back and apologised because, she said, “I realised that’s your lived experience.”

I went to Elephant and Castle. I never told my parents that I was there. I travelled alone; I did not go with any friends. I wanted to show my support to the Lawrence family. I also wanted to show the police that we were going to stand up to all the racism and we were not going to be scared. We were told when we were standing there—there was a slope—to be calm and dignified like the Lawrence family. And we were quite calm in the beginning, but when the murderers came out of the building, they had a swagger. They were cocky, and they were cocksure, because they knew they were protected by the Metropolitan police—the people that should have protected the innocent, all of us. Those murderers were protected and they knew it; they showed it. I did not realise how I would feel on that day, but if I had had eggs in my hand I would have thrown them and whatever else I had. Having to witness that undeserved arrogance and privilege was shocking and heartbreaking. It was absolutely palpable in the air, and that is why it kicked off.

As we stand here, 30 years since Stephen’s life was brutally taken, his memory and legacy live on through the work of the Stephen Lawrence trust and the work of the Lawrence family, and so does the ongoing fight for justice for him and his family. We are in this place not for show but to make society better. If we cannot highlight what is wrong with society and get it changed, what is the point?

Thirty years later, the Casey report has highlighted that the Metropolitan police is still institutionally racist. The current commissioner does not like that term. Well, I do not like the term, but I also do not like what it does. I do not like the effects of institutional racism and its consequences for the black community. I do not like the fact that black people are discriminated against more than any other group because of institutional racism. I do not like the fact that black people are five times more likely to die in police custody than their white counterparts. I do not like the fact that black people get convicted at a higher rate than their white counterparts for comparable offences. That is institutional racism. If you can’t name it, you can’t fix it.

The Government’s determination to have a fake war and say that there is no such thing as institutional racism is a disgrace. The Government’s first job should be to protect its citizens—all citizens—and they fail to do that time and again. Let me be clear: it is a matter of national importance that our public institutions are held to account in order to meet and maintain the highest standards and to continue to be held in esteem. It is not just, “Well, that’s the Metropolitan police.” Some people feel protected; some are over-policed, under-protected and underserved. The Lawrence family are an exemplar family, but it has taken its toll. Because they were not able to shame them in any way, it is still continuing.

The police talk about their reputation. To be honest, if the police were a bank account, they would be in severe deficit. We are policed by consent. With every interaction with a citizen they either add to the bank account or withdraw, and the Met police are in debt. My hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Marsha De Cordova) said that perhaps the Met police should be dismantled. I think the work that needs to be done on the Met cannot be done by anybody who has served in the Met. Cressida Dick was not a good commissioner, and Mark Rowley is slowly losing my confidence. The work that needs to be done is so deep that it needs an independent person from outside who will not be scared by the threats against them by members of the police service who want to keep the status quo. That is not to say that all police officers are corrupt, racist, homophobic or misogynistic—they are not—but the institution is. If we want to make the police service better for the good police officers, we have to change the institution. We also have to change all the institutions that surround the justice system and are underpinned by it, including the courts and the IOPC.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham said, it is now patently evident that those who were tasked with carrying out a public duty of great importance and significance following Stephen’s murder failed gravely to meet the standards that anyone would have expected. In no way do the years that have passed dull the desire to delve deeper into what now seems to be the very murky culture that pervaded the Metropolitan police at the time of Stephen’s murder. What may have been considered speculation during the early years of the investigation can now be classed as fact. When people were saying that the Lawrences were being surveilled, the police said that was not true. When people were saying that the police were being racist, we were told that was not true. Now we know it is all fact.

The catalogue of errors is a testament to the failed institution of the Metropolitan police, which has been resistant to well-overdue reform. There are too many errors for it to be just an error; it is institutional. Just imagine: as we have heard, information about one of the key suspects was not followed up until two decades later, when he was dead. It is almost like somebody did not want to offend the murderer or hold them to account, so they waited till they were dead before admitting that they were involved in the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It is as insulting as it is offensive. To think that nothing will be done about it—we cannot allow that, especially not in this place.

I will end on some words from Baroness Lawrence. In her unique, dignified way—it is incredible—she said that she has been left “bitterly disappointed” by the fact that four former Metropolitan police officers will not face charges of misconduct in public life over their handling of the initial six weeks of the 1993 investigation. One report said that they are old. I do not care how old they are; they should stand trial and be accountable for what they did. They should not be living on a fat police pension. Baroness Lawrence said:

“Not a single police officer lost his job, or will lose his pension, or pay a fine or spend a day behind bars whilst I will continue to grieve the loss of my son. This CPS decision has caused me immense distress and little thought has been given to me as a mother who has lost her son. This is a disgrace.”

Justice delayed is justice denied. It is time that justice is delivered.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) for securing this important debate.

It was an honour to be invited to attend the moving memorial service on the 30th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in April, but it is simply staggering that we are still hearing about new instances of police malpractice. It is thanks to the determined and unflinching campaigning of Baroness Lawrence that two men were convicted of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, so I pay tribute to her for her hard work. We must not forget that she and her family were spied on by the special demonstration squad—an example of the suspicion with which the state treats black people who are pursuing justice against all odds.

Sadly, we know from Baroness Casey’s important report that black people still cannot expect to receive equal treatment from the Met compared with some of their fellow Londoners. A horrific example is the case of the police officers taking and sharing pictures of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry after their brutal murders. Sadly, without real commitment to change, we will only see more and more families being let down and failed by the police, with their trauma exacerbated and, more importantly, nobody being held to account.

My hon. Friends have already spoken on this heart-wrenching topic. I want to lay three recommendations before the Minister. First, we need to see leadership from political leaders. Despite the report by Louise Casey, neither the Home Secretary nor the Met commissioner has accepted the labelling of the Met as institutionally racist. Unless they accept that the Met is institutionally racist, the work will go no further, nothing will happen and the Met will stay as it is. It is rotten to the core and needs to be looked at by people who are not in the Met police. Without such work, we as Londoners will only sit back in horror, knowing that another family will be put in the same position as Baroness Lawrence.

Secondly, it is essential that police officers face greater sanctions for misconduct. The absence of greater sanctions will only serve to breed more contempt in the police force. More importantly, police officers will know that nothing will happen to them if they treat Londoners with the same disrespect that they have shown on previous occasions and which is on record.

Thirdly, it is essential that we scrutinise the progress made on implementing all of the recommendations made by the undercover policing inquiry. The report needs to be brought to Parliament so that all parliamentarians can read it and question the Ministers responsible for it. Lastly, I support the creation of a national oversight mechanism to report on the Government making those changes. I hope that the Minister will address those recommendations when she winds up the debate.

Thank you for calling me to speak, Mr Davies.

“We wonder why people become disillusioned. I am sure that all those decades ago when the Macpherson report was first published, there were many who heaved a sigh of relief. Its aim, after all, was to ‘increase trust and confidence in policing amongst minority ethnic communities’. I am also sure that all those decades ago, when the aim of the report was stated to be ‘the elimination of racist prejudice and disadvantage and the demonstration of fairness in all aspects of policing’, many felt they had finally achieved progress. I am sure that everyone involved was aware that Rome was not built in a day, but had some hope, and maybe even allowed themselves a little confidence that life for those experiencing racism would soon change for the better.

The family of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered and then denied justice because of the colour of his skin—the family in response to whom the Macpherson report came about—perhaps felt when that report was published that his death had not been completely in vain. I have met Stephen’s brother, Stuart Lawrence, and of course we all know or know of his father, Neville Lawrence, and his mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence”,

who is with us here today. Anyone who listens to Stuart or his parents

“or reads his book, ‘Silence is Not An Option’, begins to understand the catastrophic impact Stephen’s death had on everyone in his family and how they have all had to work so hard, almost every minute of every day, simply to survive.

To a lesser degree, the impact on whole communities was also devastating and life-changing. To have the hope that things would get better for other mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters when the report was published 22 years ago, and then to come to the conclusion that Doreen Lawrence reached recently, namely that ‘things have become really stagnant and nothing seems to have moved’”.—[Official Report, Westminster Hall, 7 July 2022; Vol. 717, c. 419WH.]

You will have noticed, Mr Davies, that I said 22 years ago, when it was in fact 23 years ago. That is because what I have just said is the first page of a speech that I made here in Westminster Hall in July 2022, a year ago, about the Macpherson report. And, as I said, Doreen Lawrence said at the time:

“Things have become stagnant and nothing seems to have moved”.

That is why I am saying this again: because it is still absolutely relevant today. I have been to so many debates on this issue in this place, but nothing ever moves.

How must Baroness Lawrence feel now, when things have moved forward but there is no progress and no justice? The BBC investigation has named the sixth suspect, but there has been no progress and there will never be any justice. A decision has also been made not to prosecute any of the four retired detectives who ran that failed and corrupt investigation, so there will be no progress and no justice either. I heard a police officer say on the radio recently—I cannot remember the exact words—that it was time for us to let them have peace. He was talking about the retired detectives, not the family of Stephen Lawrence.

Baroness Lawrence has said of the BBC investigation:

“It should not have taken a journalist to do the job that a huge, highly resourced institution should have done.”

She is absolutely right. Why did it take the BBC to conduct an investigation when the Met already has far more resources to conduct one?

The Macpherson report is about England and Wales, but Scotland is not immune to any of these issues. I know that this debate is about Stephen Lawrence, but I just want to briefly mention Sheku Bayoh, whom I also talked about in last year’s debate. He died after being stopped in the street by two police officers, who were then joined by another seven police officers, in Kirkcaldy in Fife in May 2015. A public inquiry is under way and I hope to get along to it soon. However, it is now eight years since he died and his family still do not have any answers.

How did a fit young man in his 30s—he was a brother, son, dad, partner and friend—who had no weapons on him end up dead after encountering the police? I cannot answer that question—I will leave that to the inquiry—but I will say that in any other situation in which nine people confronted one person and that one person ended up dead, those nine people would, at the very least, be taken in for questioning. Mr Davies, you will never hear me or anyone else in my party claiming that Scotland or our police force is racism-free.

Let us go back to the speech I made a year ago—I am getting very good at juggling my speeches. I quoted Iain Livingstone, the chief constable of Police Scotland, as saying that there was a need for

“practical, firm, progressive, visible action”.—[Official Report, 7 July 2022; Vol. 717, c. 419WH.]

Now, let me fast-forward to May of this year, when he made a statement addressing the matter of institutional racism in policing. I will read out parts of that statement, because it shows how straightforward it can and should be for the Met and for the Government to acknowledge institutional racism in policing. He said:

“Police Scotland has grown into an organisation known to be compassionate, values based, and highly competent. It is well regarded nationally, extremely well regarded internationally, but I know it can improve, must improve.

Institutional racism, sexism and institutional discrimination have become iconic terms in the vital battle to tackle injustice. Police officers and staff, including police leaders, can be conflicted both in acknowledging their existence and in using such terms, fearing it would unfairly condemn dedicated and honourable colleagues”—

of which, no doubt, there are many—

“or that it means no progress has been made since the 1990s.

Truly, I recognise and understand that conflict. I have experienced that conflict myself over a number of years.

The meaning of institutional racism set out by Sir William Macpherson in 1999 in his report on the appalling murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 is, rightly, very demanding.

The phrase, the terminology, however, can be and often is misinterpreted or misrepresented as unfair and personal critical assessments of police officers and police staff as individuals.

That is not the case.”

He is right—it is not the case. He went on to say:

“Does institutional discrimination mean our police officers and police staff are racist and sexist? No. It absolutely does not.”

That does not mean that there are not plenty of them who are, but this does not mean that they are. He says:

“I have great confidence in the character and values of our people. I am proud of Police Scotland and I am proud of my colleagues, proud of my officers and staff.

So I know and have shared the reservations and concerns about acknowledging that institutional discrimination exists in policing.

However, it is right for me, the right thing for me to do as Chief Constable, to clearly state that institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exist. Police Scotland is institutionally racist and discriminatory. Publicly acknowledging these institutional issues exist is essential to our absolute commitment to championing equality and becoming an anti-racist Service. It is also critical to our determination to lead wider change in society.”

That is what the Met should do and what the Government should do—just acknowledge it. It is a start, but it is a really good start. Why can they not just say the words?

Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s First Minister, said that this statement was “monumental” and “historic”. He said:

“I hope that it also serves as a reminder to all of us that, whatever organisation we belong to, we have a responsibility to question the organisations that we lead…and to reflect on whether we are doing enough to dismantle not only institutional racism but the structural discrimination that exists for many people”—[Scottish Parliament Official Report, 25 May 2023; c. 10.]

The chief constable made the point that words are not enough, and he is absolutely right. Police Scotland has made a great start, and this Government and the Met police need to look at what Police Scotland has said and just own up to it. It is only words; it has to be followed up by actions. We now have a Prime Minister and a First Minister of Scotland who come from a minority ethnic background, but let us not get carried away and think that that has solved racism, because it certainly will not. Again, it is a start, but it is about what we do after that.

I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Eltham (Clive Efford). He gave us an utterly shocking and deeply depressing story, but it is one that must be told over and over, and it is one that we should never stop being shocked at. That is what happens—we hear something so many times, and we get used to it—but we must never stop being shocked at it.

I support the hon. Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) in asking the Government about the plan for justice for the Lawrence family. Is there one? If so, what is it? The hon. Member for Brent Central (Dawn Butler) talked, in a really emotional speech, about the impact on her and about her visit to Elephant and Castle. She described so well and so vividly the swagger of those murderers, who knew they were being protected.

The hon. Member for Edmonton (Kate Osamor) and others reminded us that the Lawrence family were spied on. We need to keep telling everybody that, because whenever I tell anybody, they cannot believe it. The first time you hear it, you cannot forget it. We have to keep telling everybody what happened to them. She also called for more sanctions. I was stunned when I discovered how few sanctions there are against serving police officers right across these islands.

With regard to sanctions, is the hon. Member surprised, like me, that if a police officer fails their vetting, they can still work in the police, and nothing happens to them? What we need—I hope the Minister is listening—is independent vetting and psychological testing for every single serving police officer.

I absolutely agree. One of the things that shocked me most when I read through the briefing notes was that someone can fail their vetting but still be a serving police officer. It did not just shock me; it terrified me. I hope I never need to come in contact with a serving police officer who has failed their vetting.

I end by simply expressing solidarity with anyone fighting racism. I will do my best to be an ally. I express solidarity especially with the family of Sheku Bayoh—I offer to do whatever I can, and hope they can draw strength from others as they go through the public inquiry—and most particularly with the family of Stephen Lawrence, for the incredible strength they have shown, which they should never have had to show, over the many decades they have spent fighting for justice for their son.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Mr Davies.

May I start by echoing everybody else in thanking my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) for giving such a detailed and harrowing list of all the failures in the way that this case was investigated, from the start right to the present day? There are some parallels with other cases, such as the Stephen Port murders, where four young men were murdered and multiple others were raped, and the Daniel Morgan inquiry, following his murder in 1987. There are similarities in terms of professional curiosity and not being interested in following leads, unconscious bias and structural bias—the structures of the institutions themselves not being equipped to solve these murders—and the conclusion, in some of those cases, that it was down to incompetence rather than corruption, when it is hard to see how there was not corruption.

The Daniel Morgan inquiry said that the police were institutionally corrupt; indeed, Cressida Dick was named in that report as somebody who stopped the investigation from continuing. Does my hon. Friend agree that every single report on the Met highlights another area of discrimination that needs to be tackled?

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. She is right, and one thing that Baroness Casey found in her report was a defensiveness. That is why it was first suggested in the Daniel Morgan inquiry that we should introduce a legal duty of candour, because there is a big difference between that and asking somebody for information. In that case, the Met was asked for certain information and it gave it, but it also knew other things that it did not offer. That is the difference with a duty of candour, and that came from the Hillsborough inquiry. It is one of the law changes that the Hillsborough campaigners are asking for, because, similarly, information was not willingly given and there was a defensiveness.

The reason for a duty of candour—which is something that the Victims and Prisoners Bill is introducing—is absolutely what my hon. Friend has set out, but it is also to avoid corruption, and corruption has taken place. The duty of candour can stop it, and it starts from the premise that corruption on the part of the police has been known in very serious cases.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. One of the institutional problems is that we do not have systems in place to stop these things happening in the first place; therefore they can happen, and they do.

My hon. Friend set up the all-party parliamentary group on children in police custody and will be looking at the disproportionality of children in custody. She has a lot of expertise in that area and spoke very eloquently about it. My hon. Friend the Member for Brent Central (Dawn Butler) gave an incredibly powerful speech and of course reminded us about the Lawrence family being tracked—which, as the SNP spokesperson, the hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Anne McLaughlin), said, is one of the most horrific aspects of all of this. My hon. Friend said that we are in this place not for show but to make things better, and that is incredibly important: we are not here to prove a point one way or the other, but to make things better. I hope that the Minister responds in that spirit.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Kate Osamor) mentioned the murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, which are of course all wrapped up in the same issues and are, again, some of the most horrific things I have ever read about. The grace of their mother in showing leadership and behaving in the way she has—similarly to how Baroness Lawrence has behaved—is also quite extraordinary. I know for a fact that I would not behave in that way.

Mina Smallman, the mother of Bibaa and Nicole, is absolutely phenomenal. Is it not also the case that mothers who have lost their children in such tragic circumstances should not need to be so graceful or dignified to get justice for their children? But they often need to be.

That is a really important point. On that point, it is no coincidence that the majority of my colleagues on the Labour Benches who are speaking today are women who happen to be black. It should not be on their shoulders to fix these problems. They have experienced racism all through their lives, and now we expect them to fix the problems as well. That is not right. We have the same debate when we talk about the need for more black officers in policing. Yes, we need more, but it should not be on them to solve the problems of the police. It should be on all of us. We all need to take that responsibility, especially those of us who have not had to bear the burden of racism.

Just to clarify, I do not see it as my job to bear that or to fix it; I see it as the responsibility of our whole community. It is also very much the responsibility of the Government, and it is the responsibility of us in the Opposition to ensure that the Government are doing what they need to do to address society’s wrongdoings, such as discrimination in the area of racism and prejudice and in other areas. Obviously, we are speaking about this issue because we know that the police have not dealt with this situation as they should have; indeed, they have protected themselves rather than protecting, in this case, the innocent.

That is a very good point, and I completely understand what my hon. Friend says.

Like everybody else, I pay tribute to the Lawrence family and to Baroness Lawrence, who is here today. They have had to fight and campaign for so long. We think of them every time there is another news story and they have to relive the trauma of what happened, which must be incredibly difficult. They have faced what no parent should ever have to bear.

The failures in this case run deep, as we have heard. It is extremely troubling that, after 30 years, information about those failings is still emerging. It is also unacceptable that the Crown Prosecution Service sat on the IOPC file—the dossier into alleged mishandling—for three years. We need an independent investigation into what happened, so that we can establish everything that has gone wrong. As has already been mentioned, Baroness Lawrence has said that she is bitterly disappointed and will be seeking a review, which limits, up to a point, what we can say about it. It is clear, and the message to the Minister is clear: the Home Office must not stand back. The Government have a role here and real leadership is needed. We need the Government to commit to engaging seriously with the issue of police reform, to avoid repeating failures and rebuild trust in communities that have lost that trust.

Other Members have talked about the journey from the Macpherson report to the Casey report. Undoubtedly some good changes were made in that period, but equally Louise Casey finds that a lot of things have not improved. I pay tribute to Baroness Casey for the thoroughness of her review. She described the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the Macpherson report as irrevocably changing the nature of policing in the UK. It changed the understanding, the investigation and the prosecution of racist crimes nationwide.

Macpherson rightly called for police forces to be representative of their communities, but we have made very slow progress on that front. At the current rate of recruitment and attrition, the Met will manage to increase its black, Asian and ethnic minority representation to only 22% of all officers to reflect the population by 2055. If the Met continued to improve its black, Asian and ethnic minority recruitment by an additional 1% each year from this year onwards, it would take nearly 40 years to reach an officer group that was proportionate. I represent Croydon Central, and I remember going out with the new recruits, who are the ones who carry out stop and search in our communities. There were 80 of them, and not a single one of them was black. There is a very diverse population in Croydon, so that does not work and it needs to be changed.

The trust that people have in policing is an important part of being able to solve crimes. If people do not trust the police, the police cannot solve crimes. In 2021-22, only 43% of black Londoners believed that the Met did a good job locally, while 33% of black Londoners thought that the Met did a good job across London. Only 46% of Londoners think that the Met treats everyone fairly, and only 14% of black Londoners think that the Met treats black people fairly. Looking at the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime surveys, we can see that those figures have fallen—rapidly, in some cases—in recent years. Things have got worse.

It has already been mentioned that Louise Casey talked about black Londoners being under-protected and over-policed. That is a really important issue that I would like the Minister to comment on. I think we are going backwards, and the approach that the Government are taking is making the issue harder to tackle. Most hon. Members present were in the Chamber recently when the Home Secretary made a statement about stop and search. She has gone further than even the previous Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Witham (Priti Patel), in almost denying that there is a problem that needs fixing. For example, she said:

“Suggestions that stop and search is a means of victimising young black men have it precisely the wrong way around…Black people account for about 3% of our population, yet almost a third of under-25s killed by knives are black.”—[Official Report, 19 June 2023; Vol. 734, c. 569.]

However, that implies that those figures are somehow equivalent, and of course, they are not. Something like 120 young people under the age of 25 are murdered every year, so we are talking about 40 or 50 young black people, tops, and 3% is 2 million people. So there are 2 million people who are black in this country, and a very small number of murders, so we cannot equate the two. The implication that the Home Secretary seemed to be making—that that meant it was fine that people were being over-policed—is very dangerous and sad. I do not think that even this Government have been saying up to this point.

The under-protection of black people in London in terms of crime is really acute. The figures showing evidence of that are in Louise Casey’s report. Indeed, disproportionality is not questioned by anybody—apart from potentially our Home Secretary. Whether it is the National Police Chiefs’ Council in its report on racism—which covers the whole of policing—or the inspectorate, the IOPC or the Met itself, everybody accepts that there is a huge problem. I worry that the Government are taking a line that questions that. In Wales—the hon. Member for Glasgow North East said it is similar in Scotland—there is an active anti-racism strategy led by the Government across the board, so it is much easier for the police and the leaders of policing to do the right thing. It is actively harder for them to the right thing under this Government, which is a great shame.

It is clear that we need change across the board. Labour wants a complete overhaul of the way the police are vetted and recruited. We want misconduct to be dealt with and training to be introduced. All those things need significant reform. The issue of vetting is even worse than hon. Members have said. It is not just that people can fail their vetting and still be police officers; it is not among a police officer’s powers to sack someone because they have failed their vetting.

There are problems across the board with the way that vetting, interviews and misconduct processes work, and structural racism is built into all those processes. Black police officers are much more likely to have a much shorter time in the Met and are much more likely to be subject to disciplinary proceedings. It is at every level, so we need to reform all those things.

We need to look at things such as stop and search, Child Q strip searches and adultification. There needs to be much better training, and the law needs to reflect what is right and wrong. The approach to children must be much more child-centred and safeguarding-centred.

People have asked whether we should break up the Met. Louise Casey said that we should give the new commissioner two years, and if at that point we have not seen significant reform and change, there is a case for breaking it up. An administrative change to structures does not necessarily change anything. Putting a group in a different team does not necessarily lead to change, but Louise Casey sensibly concluded that if the pace of change is not sufficient and we do not see more improvements, we need to do more.

I have talked about the change that we need to see, and that sits alongside the impact on policing. The good police officers in the Met struggle to do a good job. Louise Casey said that austerity has “disfigured” the Met. There is an absence of neighbourhood policing, so police officers do not have the ability to build relationships with their communities. We have seen groups such as the Territorial Support Group go into communities they do not know and make bad judgments about who they stop and search.

Across the country, we have a shortfall of 7,000 detectives. We do not have enough good detectives who can solve crimes, be curious, ask the right questions and be trained. Although there is now direct entry into detective work—which is good and has led to more diversity in the workforce, so that a different type of person joining the police—we need to go much further. There needs to be much better training on issues such as racism and violence against women and girls. We need to change these ingrained cultures through better training.

I ask the Minister to respond to all the points that have been made. The Met has struggled to reform, but these problems exist across the country—six forces are in special measures—so what will the Home Secretary and the Home Office do to raise standards and reform policing? Does the Minister accept that there is disproportionality within the system and structural issues that mean that racism, misogyny, sexism and homophobia continue unchanged? Will she back the calls from everyone here to change the way we vet and train officers, and deal with police misconduct?

Our thoughts are with the Lawrence family and with Baroness Lawrence, who is in the Public Gallery. I am so sorry that she has had to go through this. As my hon. Friend the Member for Brent Central said, we are here for a reason—it is not just for show. We need change, but even after so many years, it is possible. These things are not inevitable; we can and must change things. I hope the Minister sees the urgency of the task.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies. I am pleased to see the Public Gallery so full. I am particularly pleased to see Baroness Lawrence here. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) for securing the debate. As was abundantly clear throughout his remarks, this is a subject of particular significance for him and his constituents. I appreciate the insight, work and knowledge he has brought to bear on this subject and discussion. My thanks also go to other Members who have contributed.

The murder of Stephen Lawrence remains one of the most disgraceful and devastating crimes our country has ever seen. We all remember the collective sense of grief and shock we felt at the time, and the impact that that heinous act has had on all of us 30 years on. The case left an indelible mark on policing, and that theme has been explored today and in previous debates. Above all, it is important to remember that this started with the loss of a young man with the whole of his life ahead of him. Although it is understandable that our discussions often focus on the wider questions for policing and our society more generally, we must always keep that terrible tragedy at the forefront of our minds.

We speak of Stephen and the future that was denied to him. We think of his family, who have endured a long and difficult fight for justice, and who have been indefatigable in keeping his memory alive. I fully understand the continued interest in this case and will endeavour to be as helpful as I can and as full in my comments as possible, in the short time that remains. That said, I hope colleagues will understand if I restrict my remarks to some degree, due to the sensitivities and, of course, the fact that the Metropolitan police is operationally independent.

I turn to 26 June, when the Met issued an updated statement on Stephen’s murder. The Met recognised that although two men were convicted of Stephen’s murder in 2012, other suspects have not yet been brought to justice. The Met statement explained that Matthew White, who passed away in 2021, first came to its attention as a witness in 1993. He was arrested and interviewed in March 2000 and in December 2013, and a file was received by the Crown Prosecution Service in May 2005 and October 2014.

The Met stated that on both occasions the CPS advised that there was no realistic prospect of conviction of White for any offence. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Ward said, as part of that statement, that unfortunately too many mistakes were made in the initial investigation and they continue to have an impact. On the 30th anniversary of Stephen’s murder, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley apologised for the Met’s failings, and the deputy assistant commissioner repeated that apology.

I know that that update from the Met will have come as a blow to Stephen’s family. Their resilience and courage in seeking justice has shone through for the last three decades. Their frustration is understandable, and it is right that the police have apologised. In May, the Met commissioned a routine forensic review of key exhibits to consider whether new scientific processes could advance the case. That investigation remains in an inactive phase. As I have said, I fully understand the interest in the investigation and the desire for answers, but I hope colleagues will understand if I refrain from further speculation or comment in that regard.

The IOPC investigation collated evidence related to the actions and omissions of the four officers in the early stages of the investigation into Stephen’s murder. A file was then provided to the CPS to answer whether anyone should face charges. This was a vast investigation that had been undertaken by the National Crime Agency under the IOPC’s direction. It involved the gathering and analysis of several million pages of information and intelligence, spanning many years. I understand that NCA investigators also interviewed more than 150 people, including serving and former police officers and staff involved in the original murder inquiry, relevant witnesses and others, including journalists with in-depth knowledge of the original investigation.

The CPS applied tests, as set out in the code for Crown prosecutors, regarding the evidence provided. I recognise that the announcement made by the CPS that no criminal charges will be brought against the four suspects will be very disappointing for the Lawrences and Duwayne Brooks. The CPS has offered the victims the right to review its decision, so it would be inappropriate for me to comment at this stage.

I turn to the points made by the hon. Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) about the Met needing to change and the Casey review. The publication of Baroness Casey’s report on the standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Met made for very sobering reading, and it is paramount that public trust in the Met is restored. Although primary accountability lies with the Mayor of London, I know the Home Secretary will continue to hold the commissioner and the Mayor accountable for delivering the necessary improvements, as will the Policing Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South (Chris Philp), who apologises for not being here today.

Although we have seen progress in several areas since the awful murder of Stephen, there is much to do. It is imperative that by working with key partners, including His Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary and fire and rescue services, the Met continues the process of restoring public confidence that it is getting the high-quality service that people desire and that we all have a right to expect. The Government have confidence in the commissioner’s leadership, and in his plans to turn around the Met and ensure that the force is delivering for all communities.

I turn now to the points made by the hon. Member for Edmonton (Kate Osamor) in relation to institutional racism. Without question, discriminatory attitudes and behaviours have no place in policing, and any allegations of racism are deeply disturbing. We expect police officers to take urgent action to root out discrimination. Allegations of police wrongdoing are dealt with under a comprehensive framework, either by police forces or the IOPC. I understand that there is much debate around the definition of the term “institutional racism” in the Met. The commissioner is committed to tackling issues of racism and building back trust in the police in the form of the force’s “Turnaround Plan 2023-2025”—the two years that have been mentioned—which has core themes of more trust, less crime and high standards. The most important thing is to judge the Met on its actions rather than words.

I turn to other recommendations made by the hon. Member for Edmonton. I listened carefully to what she said about her four recommendations, and her second recommendation was to have greater sanctions. The Casey review has looked at the effectiveness of the disciplinary system, so that the public can be confident that it is fair but effective at removing officers who fall far short of the standards expected of them. I have met the commissioner, and I have heard that he is extremely interested in this area. At this stage, I have confidence in him.

The Casey review also examined whether the current three-tier performance system is effective in being able to dismiss officers who fail to perform the duties expected of their rank and role. To restore public confidence in policing, the Home Office and the police forces have undertaken a series of actions to ensure that police vetting is fit for purpose, including the need for police forces to check their officers and staff against the national police database, and to root out those unfit for service. Officers who fall short of the standard expected of them must be identified and dealt with appropriately, and I look forward to work being done in this area.

In relation to the murder of Stephen Lawrence, I have gone back over all the evidence, and there were clear failings in the investigation—so many in certain aspects of it that it is difficult to say it was incompetence. If we do not have an independent investigation, away from the Met, how will the public have confidence in the outcome?

I look forward to the work that Baroness Casey outlined in terms of having more confidence in the Met police. It is right that such work is done, that there is a little time given to do that work, and that we must expect progress.

I will try to respond to all the recommendations put forward by the hon. Member for Edmonton. In relation to scrutiny, I am aware that members of the Lawrence family have been granted core participant status in the undercover policing inquiry. The inquiry was established in 2015 to examine undercover policing operations by English and Welsh forces since 1968. On 29 June 2023, the undercover policing inquiry published an interim report for tranche 1 of its investigations. The full report is publicly available, and I am sure Members have had a look at it. Tranche 1 of the inquiry’s investigations examined special demonstration squad officers and managers, and those affected by deployments between 1968 and 1982.

The Home Office is grateful to Sir John Mitting for the report, and the Department will carefully consider its contents. It is an interim report and is restricted to the time period covered by tranche 1. As the inquiry’s investigations are ongoing, it would not be appropriate for the Government to comment at this stage, but the recommendation suggested by the hon. Member for Edmonton is very much in mind.

Very briefly. There is a lot to get through and I need to respond to everything everyone said.

When the Government respond, it would be helpful for a Minister to come to the House and make an oral statement so that we can all have the opportunity to comment, because we have not had that debate.

I am grateful for that intervention. I will pass that message on to the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister.

On police culture, I disagree with one thing that the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones) said, which was that the Home Secretary was not leading enough in her role—I think “standing back” was the phrase that the hon. Member used. That has not been my experience of the efforts put in by the Home Secretary, who has made it consistently clear, both in public and in private to me, that the culture and standards in policing need to improve as a matter of urgency. I hope we can agree on that.

Examining the root causes of poor and toxic cultures is a key focus of part 2 of the Angiolini inquiry, which is now under way. The College of Policing is also currently updating the code of ethics, which plays a key role in instilling the right principles and standards from the start of a police officer’s career. The Policing Minister is certainly holding leaders to account in this area.

I will briefly mention that whenever, in my safeguarding role, I visit a police force that I have not visited before, one of the first questions I ask is: what is the ethnic diversity of new recruits and existing officers? That must be very much in everybody’s mind. We need a police force that reflects better the whole of society.

The Government and the public rightly expect the highest standards from our police officers. The ability of the police to perform their core functions—tackling crime and keeping the public safe—is dependent on their capacity to maintain the confidence of the public. As part of the Inclusive Britain strategy, the Government are committed to developing a new national framework for policing partners, including police and crime commissioners.

Police powers such as stop and search and the use of force must be scrutinised properly at a local level. That will help to create tangible improvements in trust and confidence between the police and the communities they serve by improving public understanding of how and why the police use their powers and will help account for any disparities. Alongside that, the Home Office is committed to seeking and removing unnecessary barriers that prevent the use of body-worn video, which will be implemented in the framework. Work is well under way on the community scrutiny framework, which we aim to publish in due course.

Will the Government look at the use of tasers? Members of the community are concerned about them and the way they are used.

I will ask the Policing Minister to write to the hon. Member about that. We have only two minutes left, and I want to leave a minute for the Member in charge to wind up.

I offer my thanks to the hon. Member for Eltham for securing this debate. I am acutely conscious of the significance of the case not only for the Lawrence family, but for the Britain that I want to see and for Britain’s policing as a whole. My thoughts are with the family of Stephen for the loss of their loved one. They had such a shattering loss. We cannot bring him back, but we can do more to strain every sinew to learn every possible lesson from that awful crime.

It is a tragedy that the case still casts a shadow over the Metropolitan police. The mistakes that have been made, particularly those in relation to evidence relating to Matthew White, are too numerous to be coincidental. They are worthy of an investigation independent of the Metropolitan police. Even a review by Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll might suffice, because he is the one who stands out among the Met officers as somebody committed to seeing justice in this case. We often hear people talk about victims; if there any victims we should listen to, it is the Lawrence family. We should talk to them about how we can resolve the issue and take it forward.

When Cressida Dick closed down the investigation into Stephen’s murder, she said that no further viable lines of inquiry were open. That was not true. The Met have to accept that. We cannot leave it there.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered the Metropolitan Police investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.