Mystery still surrounding Lawrence Inquiry visit to Manchester

Mystery still surrounding Lawrence Inquiry visit to Manchester


The report into Greater Manchester Police involvement in policing of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry visit to Greater Manchester in 1998 calls attention to important issues about race and policing in the 21st Century.

We welcome the fact that this report acknowledged a degree of inappropriate behaviour on the part of Greater Manchester Police in terms of communication about surveillance of the Lawrence Inquiry  and that this behaviour indeed had negative consequences.

The events surrounding the Stephen Lawrence inquiry visit to Greater Manchester however still remain a mystery even at the conclusion of this two year internal inquiry. It is a matter of deep disappointment and concern that the Independent Police Complaints Commission declined to conduct this inquiry.

The outcome of Operation Kerry therefore reflects a priority to protect the reputation and interest of GMP as opposed to upholding basic democratic policing principles.

It’s conclusions and recommendations bear little resemblance to the evidence presented by GMP Officer Charles Crichlow concerning the actions he took to protect the rights of those attending the public inquiry and his subsequent treatment by colleagues from the top down in the organisation.

It is also a matter of deep concern that evidence offered to this inquiry appears to have been at best ignored and at worst misrepresented.

Operation Kerry does point to a seminal period in terms of the experiences of black staff within British policing particularly their struggle against racist corruption.

There is a disproportionate focus upon mechanisms rather than mind-sets which lead to behaviours referred to in the report.

The report therefore offers little if any hope that important lessons have been learned relating to police abuse of power in the context of race and justice. The emerging context of Policing in the 21st century demands that these lessons are learned.

It is for these reasons that the future public inquiry into Police surveillance chaired by Lord Justice Pitchford must examine the issues presented to and arising from Operation Kerry.

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