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Statement on Stephen Lawrence allegations from Church of England’s Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC)

"If true, the allegations that have emerged in recent days would show beyond doubt that we are not just hearing the revelation that some police officers behaved appallingly to the family and friends of a murder victim 20 years ago. In the light of what has been alleged, many people are now concluding that significant numbers of police officers, including some at senior level, knew of, and approved of, what was happening. The belief that this was not just a few bad apples but a rottenness at the core of UK policing needs to be tested by a full, open and independent investigation, now.

"If it is indeed the case that a cohort of officers has been complicit in a prolonged cover up, hiding the truth from the Macpherson enquiry and from the groups both within the Home Office and UK Policing that were set up in the wake of Stephen Lawrence's murder and which sought to address the structural failings in how we police our society, then the integrity of all that well intentioned work is called into question, and we would be forced to conclude that a conspiracy of silence has continued until 2013 to prevent the full truth from emerging.

"These new allegations do, sadly, resonate with the belief of many black and minority ethnic Anglicans that institutional racism within UK policing is not simply an entry in the history books, but a sickening reality today. A reality they attest to through their experience of encounters with police officers and which is statistically backed up by the wholly disproportionate figures for the use of "Stop and Search" among young black people. These are things that can undermine confidence in all policing.

"The Church of England, through its presence in all our communities, works to build up understanding, respect and trust in our society. We applaud the significant steps forward made in many parts of the country in recent years through sensitive Neighbourhood Policing programmes.

"However, we are now presented with serious allegations that our police services remain tainted by the presence, across the ranks, of those who are prepared to collude, right up to the present day, in a cover up of massive proportions.  We the Church, with 25 years' experience of addressing racism in our structure, stand ready to play any part we can in the process of discovery, admission of fault, penitence and commitment to finding a new and better future which lies at the heart of all that we, as Christians, stand for. This is the way forward to which we now urgently commend all with responsibility for our policing."

For more on CMEAC click here.