Council leaders complain over ‘racist’ police training module

Leaders of Enfield and Haringey councils say Met Police training tool discriminated against people of Turkish origin, reports James Cracknell

Haringey Council leader Peray Ahemt (left) and Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan (right)
Haringey Council leader Peray Ahmet (left) and Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan (right)

The leaders of both Enfield and Haringey councils have complained to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) over what they claim is “negative racial stereotyping of people of Turkish heritage” in a training course.

Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan and Haringey Council leader Peray Ahmet wrote a joint letter to borough commander Caroline Haines over reports in the national press this week that trainee detectives were shown videos containing offensive racial stereotypes.

The Met Police has now withdrawn the specific training module but the two council leaders have demanded “reassurance” that there will be no other similar videos used as part of officer training courses and that the force “reflects” on the approach being taken.

The pair wrote: “Enfield and Haringey are home to significantly large populations of people from Turkish-speaking backgrounds. The news that prejudice towards the Turkish-speaking community in London could be manufactured through training of detectives in the force is a concern to both of us and our residents.

“While we not the training module(s) that caused such offence have been withdrawn, it is disappointing that an academic team, with operational input from the Metropolitan Police, developed, approved, and delivered such a prejudicial and racist piece of ‘training’ in the first place.

“The training course did not limit itself to racism directed at people of Turkish origin but also devised inappropriate and unnecessary scenario building that would offend huge sections of our Asian and Middle Eastern communities too.

“This ill-conceived approach to training threatens all the work we and our partners are doing with you to create greater community cohesion and resilience.

“One can only imagine the discomfort trainee officers from ethnic minority backgrounds must have felt when viewing this offensive material as part of a degree-level course in policing. It would give the impression to many of our residents that we still have some way to go before we have a police force that is truly representative of the communities in London.”

In a separate statement, Eren Emin, chair of the Turkish Police Association, said that following the initial concerns raised he had been working in “close consultation” with the Met and would be “releasing a statement of our findings along with new structures moving forward to ensure these mistakes do not reoccur.”

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A Met Police spokesperson said: “The MPS works in commercial partnership with Babcock International for the development and delivery of its recruit training for new police officers. Babcock, in turn, partner with four London-based universities.

“The professional lecturing teams across Babcock and these universities hold responsibility for designing and delivering a number of elements of the training, which is then reviewed and approved by the Met before use. All training content aligns to the National Police Curriculum, which is owned by the College of Policing.

“Being academically accredited courses, each individual training programme is also subject to robust quality assurance through the universities collectively to verify that it meets all criteria necessary for the award of the qualification.

“In relation to the case study in question, this features within the degree holder entry programme for detectives. It was developed by the academic team, with operational input from the Met, including colleagues from the crime academy.

“Case studies are designed to cover a range of complex issues delivered by suitably qualified and experienced higher education lecturers from the universities who can ensure that material is appropriately contextualised and anchored to the achievement of learning outcomes.

“The case study was used for the first time across September/October 2021. As with all of our learning inputs, they are continually reviewed to maximise their effectiveness. This includes surveying all recruits. Whilst no initial issues were highlighted via the recruit surveys in respect of the case study, subsequent feedback was received by a small number within the lecturing team regarding the level of complexity and the potential for misinterpretation in the delivery of the material to ensure that sensitive, diversity-linked subject matter was appropriately framed and culturally sensitive.

“As a result, each university was given delegated authority to adapt the case study locally using their professional judgement and understanding of their local lecturing team capability in order to ensure that any risks of misinterpretation were removed.

“More broadly, in late 2021, work commenced on the development of a new case study linked to wider changes to the overall structure of the degree holder entry programme for detectives and recognising that all case studies have a natural shelf life as the Met continues to evolve and adapt to keep pace with and stay ahead of changes in criminal activity in its efforts to keep Londoners safe.

“In order to further strengthen the existing governance process, it is now standard practice that all new training material developed for use with met officers/staff is put through the MPS learning and development community reference group who have a remit to test, challenge and shape our thinking in relation to training content and approach.

“All recruits joining the Met via the degree holder entry programme for detectives from May 2022 onwards, will complete the newly structured programme.”

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