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‘Scandalous’ response over racism investigation – Hampshire Police criticised.

In a shocking development the police force is investigating 19 staff members over the alleged use of ‘prejudiced and inappropriate’ language and behaviour.

Hampshire Constabulary confirmed that after being accused of a scandalous lack of transparency they were investigating members of the force along, with three civilian staff.

The investigation comes after the force was accused of refusing to divulge details of allegations which led to five staff members being suspended.

The investigation was launched last year after Sky News requested Hampshire Police to provide a summary of the complaints which had been made against the centre, dating back to when it had first opened in 2017.

The reason for the investigation was due to a secret recording device which caught officers making homophobic and racist remarks at the investigation centre in Basingstoke. Sky News also asked for the outcome of the reports to be made public.

Sky News was told by Hampshire Police that they did not hold the information in a ‘retrievable format’. They stated that to provide the information would cost too much money.

A spokesperson for the force said that to retrieve the list of complaints made against staff in Basingstoke, a manual review would have to be ordered. It seems that the force has no way of searching for results in a certain location, thus all complaints would need to be reviewed to see if they had taken place in Basingstoke.

The spokesperson went on to say that the investigation is still under way and until it was concluded they could not provide any further information.

Th Monitoring Group – an anti-racism charity, has criticised the initial response from the force and said they were reminded of the damning inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. This enquiry stressed the urgent need for the police to be more transparent about racist allegations.

Director of the Monitoring Group, Suresh Grover told Sky News that it was indeed scandalous that the force was not more open about the language which had been used.

After the Lawrence enquiry recommendations were in place which stressed the importance for public services, in particular the police, to be more open and honest when they investigated racist behaviour. This is particularly important when considering that racism simply spreads and ferments in secrecy.

Mr Grover went on to say that the fact that there were 19 police employees under investigation raised several concerns. The scale of the investigation indicates that there is a possibility of an existing office culture in existence in the police force. In fact, it is the same as the canteen culture which existed in the 1970’s.

MP for Basingstoke Maria Miller commented to Sky News that she intended to write to Hampshire Police. She also planned to speak to the policing minister and raise her concerns.

It is vital, said Ms Miller, that the general public have confidence in the police force. They must be sure that any type of racism will be dealt with fairly and without discrimination. The police need to be completely transparent when they handle serious allegations.

Ms Miller concluded by saying that in the interest of the public, Hampshire residents are entitled to know whether the allegations made have been upheld or not. They also have a right to know whether any disciplinary action has been taken.

The investigation which started in February 2018 has seen the suspension of 5 employees. A further 11 were placed on restricted duties while the investigation continued.

The investigation is being carried out by the professional standards department and supervised by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Police said that the outcome of the investigation is expected in the summer and the public will be informed of the outcome.

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