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From the Chairman

What comes through loudest and clearest to me about the whole Stephen Lawrence affair is the starkness of the difference between the grace and charm of Stephen's mother Doreen and the police force who should have served Stephen and her. And didn't.

Doreen Lawrence, dignified and unpretentious, trenchant in her criticism but manifestly honest, matter of fact and down to earth. Plucked from obscurity and thrust involuntarily into the limelight, she rose above every obstacle placed in front of her, a lioness of a mother looking out for her children in life and in death.

Compare that to an institutionally racist police force, who even today defend the indignity of "stop and search" imposed on young black people disproportionately. Even now, they defend it in some quarters as effective policing.

I am old enough to remember a time when the police force commanded respect among the population, simply by dint of holding the position they held. It was natural to respect the police because they earned that respect and were entitled to it.

Tragically, the police then seemed to lose their way in a morass of high-handedness, dishonesty and weakness of leadership covered up by machismo. There was a number of consequences including the hostility of young people, particularly young black people, towards the police force. The police declined to go from home to work in uniform for their own protection and safety.

The tinder-box was set. All it needed was a spark. In August 2011 the spark was struck and an out of control wildfire followed as surely as night follows day.

- o - O - o -

At the top of every policeman's daily to-do list should be written "How can I command more respect today?"

And on the wall of every police station should be a picture of Doreen Lawrence to serve as a reminder of how it is done, with the truth, moral values and a good heart.

May we all follow her example.