The racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and the report of Sir William Macpherson which followed it have been the most seismic events to hit the British police in the last 50 years—greater than the uncovering of networked corruption in the 1960s and likely to be more significant even than the apparently sorry tales emerging in front of the Leveson inquiry. And as always in British policing, Scotland Yard lies at its heart.
Macpherson’s report brutally laid bare the Met’s failures in the Lawrence investigation: failures of leadership, professional competence and community understanding. It was fortunate that a new generation of police leaders, commanded by Sir Paul Condon, had come to office by the time it was published. They were prepared not to reject these conclusions but to accept the bitterest of criticism and work for a