Alleged police Facebook jibes about Travellers investigated

Alleged police Facebook jibes about Travellers investigated

ACCUSATIONS that London Metropolitan Police officers wrote racist comments about Travellers on Facebook are being investigated by Scotland Yard’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

The Traveller Movement has complained to Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe over the alleged comments posted on a Facebook group called ‘I’ve met the Met’ — an unofficial group used primarily by serving and retired Met officers.

The Facebook group, which has around 3,000 participants, is invite-only and cannot be viewed by the public.

The Traveller Movement was passed screenshots of three threads discussing Gypsies and Travellers which included racist comments such as “I f**king hate pikeys”.

On one thread the posters, using what appear to be their real names, discuss the decision by the BBC Trust to not censure Top Gear for using the racist term ‘pikey’.

The thread is started by a poster who puts up the link to a news story on this and then states: “I never knew a pikey could be offended. I thought they were devoid of all feelings and thoughts… just my feelings after years of dealings with these despicable people. Who call themselves travellers yet never travel.”

The next poster says: “You know when they are lying their lips move…”

Yvonne MacNamara, chief executive of the Traveller Movement said: “The comments are shocking, and the fact that they are potentially made by serving and retired police officers gives us no confidence at all in the Metropolitans Police’s ability to both police these communities and to attract and protect its own staff who are from Gypsy and Traveller backgrounds.

“We believe that the Metropolitan Police must set up an internal review to look into the all too common assumptions that all Gypsies and Travellers are criminals, and they do not deserve the same quality of service and policing as any other member of our society. We are becoming aware of the tendency amongst some police forces to categorise Gypsies and Travellers as criminals.”

Jim Davies, Chair of the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association (GRTPA) – a membership organisation that represents GRT officers and staff – said: Racism towards Gypsies and Travellers is endemic and is part of police culture. It has been allowed to fester and spread unchallenged for years and the effect on the lives of Gypsies and Travellers working within the police service is disastrous.”

In a statement, the Met Police said: "The group administrators have set the privacy settings for the group as 'secret' but we understand it to include former and serving MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] officers among its members.

"DPS is assessing the information it has received to determine whether any serving MPS officer or staff may have committed any acts of misconduct and will also look to see if any criminal offences may have been committed.

"Should either be disclosed they will be fully investigated.”