The new Met Police Chief, Mark Rowley, has refused to meet with the head of National Black Police Association, Andy George. George, who regularly met with Cressida Dick, says he is baffled as to why the new head of Scotland Yard has chosen to snub an independent national association that gives voice to black and ethnic minority police officers, especially at a time when confidence in the police has hit rock-bottom. George tells the Guardian that he hoped to discuss issues such as the “gaslighting” of ethnic minorities and police officers, a four-fold rise in the number of officers being supported by the Met Black Police Association over grievances, or during disciplinary processes, and how career structures within the Met “operate like an organised crime gang… You will not get promoted unless you take the party line. We have bosses and leaders that end up developing and sponsoring people that they like and [are] loyal to them, and they will pull them through.”
Sir Mark Rowley’s appointment as the new commissioner of Met Police has been openly criticised by a number of quarters. MEND recently expressed it’s concern that the former counter-terrorism chief “with ties to right-wing organisations” and a track record of “prejudicial comments” should be considered a suitable candidate for the job of Chief of Met Police. While he refuses to meet with an independent national body that represents black police officers, Rowley has met with, and even endorsed, the right-wing ‘Henry Jackson Society,’ who he once described as a “factual, impartial and highly useful resource.” MEND points out that members of the Henry Jackson Society “have inks to the US far-right, Trump and Islamophobes, including Steve Bannon, Breitbart, the Gatestone Institute and the Mercers”. MEND also reports that Rowley previously delivered a speech at another right-wing think tank, Policy Exchange, where he attacked mainstream Muslim organisations and compared them to right-wing extremists. They also reveal that “Past Policy Exchange authors and their associates have been accused of Islamophobia, antisemitism and promotion of the far-right great replacement theory.”
Middle East Eye (MEE) has also expressed it’s concerns over the appointment of Mark Rowley as Met Police Chief. They noted his “staunch support of the controversial Prevent programme” and a number of offensive comments about Muslims and ethnic minorities that he had made previously. They remind us that, following the New Zealand Christchurch Mosque attacks where 51 worshippers were shot and killed and 40 others injured, Rowley told the BBC that it was “clumsy thinking” to claim Islamophobia was a form of racism. MEE also point out that Rowley previously expressed the view that the rise in far-right extremism and hate crimes was due to a “lack of integration” by ethnic minorities – i.e. blaming victims of racism and hate crime for their own victimisation.
In June 2020, CAGE revealed that Mark Rowley, who was working for the Commission for Countering Extremism (CEE) at the time, would be leading a review examining if current legislation was sufficient to deal with “hateful extremism.” CAGE believed this was an attempt “to shift the focus onto ‘conspiracy theories’ and shunt them under the banner of ‘extremism’.” According to CAGE, “hateful extremism,” is a term the CCE use when they want to “redefine counter-extremism.” Connecting ‘hate crime’ to ‘extremism’ removes any wider political context and allows the CEE to “secure buy-in from communities.” According to CAGE, it denotes “a shift to further expanding ‘Counter Extremism’ to become a ‘catch all’ for a variety of manifestations of deeper social ills.”
Our message to Sadiq Khan – It would seem undeniable now that questions over the Met Police’s political impartiality and their commitment to stamping out racism and bigotry from the force will not be addressed while we have someone like Mark Rowley at it’s helm.
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