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2021020920210215 (R4)Hugh Muir has spent much of his journalistic career chronicling the working lives of Britain's black and minority ethnic police officers. In this programme, he investigates claims that racism is on the rise within policing in the UK.

In 1990, the Met acknowledged that it had a problem holding on to its black officers and decided to ask black and Asian staff why so many of them were leaving. Almost all the force's black police officers attended a two-day meeting at the then Bristol Polytechnic that summer. They had no choice - it was mandatory. The officers all shared experiences of racist ‘banter' and other mistreatment they had suffered on the job. Many found it therapeutic.

However, 30 years on from the ‘Bristol meeting', black officers say that despite some initial improvements, not much has changed. Some even contend that racism within policing got worse. And since the backlash that followed the killing of George Floyd last year, black officers now face growing hostility from outside as well as from within.

For this programme, Hugh has spoken to several black and minority ethnic officers, both serving and retired. They include Andrew George, President of the National Black Police Association, and retired superintendent Leroy Logan, whose life story was recently adapted for the screen by the Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen in his film anthology Small Axe.

“I think black cops deserve more internal and external support as the key to making the real progress we all say we want,” Hugh says.

Produced by George Luke
A Cast Iron Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Is racism on the rise in British policing? Hugh Muir investigates.

In 1990, the Met acknowledged that it had a problem holding on to its black officers and decided to ask black and Asian staff why so many of them were leaving. Almost all the force's black police officers attended a two-day meeting at the then Bristol Polytechnic that summer. They had no choice - it was mandatory. The officers all shared experiences of racist ‘banter' and other mistreatment they had suffered on the job. Many found it therapeutic. A 190-page report on the meetings was written but never published.

01Drama20160727Six black male playwrights explore their feelings about race and police violence in the US

When a white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th 2014, it sparked a wave of protest across America and became emblematic in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Now, six black American playwrights aged between 30 and 40 years old, dig deep into what it's like being young, black and male today in an America of institutionalised profiling.

Hands Up'began as part of a theatre festival, The New Black Fest, based in New York. Keith Josef Adkins who runs the festival wanted these playwrights to think hard about their personal politics and to respond to what happened in Ferguson. They looked at the immediate aftermath of the tragic event, the protests and the wider implications.

Their testaments are extremely varied. For some, what happened to Michael Brown could happen to them anytime, any day, and they live in constant fear of witnessing or experiencing profiling, harassment, arrest and even a fatal shooting. Others feel guilty about not being able to relate to the racism Michael Brown faced because they come from a wealthier background, or because they come from the metropolis, or are lighter skinned. For one writer it's a sense of ambivalence because he was adopted by white parents. They all attempt to understand Brown's experience, to figure out what he could have done differently, if anything. They share their fears and feelings through real and imagined scenarios, and they offer their ideas and dreams about how to fight racism and change society.

The plays are linked by comments from young black men interviewed on the streets of New York and documentary news material from St Louis Public Radio and WBEZ Chicago.

The plays and playwrights:

How I Feel by Dennis A. Allen II

Walking Next to Michael Brown by Eric Holmes

Superiority Fantasy by Nathan James

Holes in my Identity by Nathan Yungerberg

They Shootin! by Idris Goodwin

Abortion: Letter to a Beautiful Soul by NSangou Njikam

This is the first in a two part series, Black and Blue, about black men and the police in America, broadcast on consecutive days. Judith Kampfner adapted Hands Up from the stage and the second play, String Music, from a George Pelecanos short story. Both were recorded and produced in America.

Music by Gene Pritsker

Sound Design by Allen Towbin

Produced by Judith Kampfner

A Corporation for Independent Media production for BBC Radio 4.

01Ian Rankin - Rebus20080628 (BBC7)
20130817 (BBC7)
The maverick detective investigates murders in three cities - could they be linked?

By Ian Rankin, dramatised by Chris Dolan.

Investigating the violent death of a North Sea oil worker in Edinburgh, Rebus uncovers a variety of possible motives. His inquiries take him from Edinburgh to Glasgow and Aberdeen before he finds his investigation overlapping with a major hunt for a serial killer who has struck in all three cities.

John Rebus....Ron Donachie

Ludo Lumsden....Iain Robertson

Siobhan Clarke....Gayanne Potter

Jack Morton....Simon Tait

Tracy Minchell....Irene Allan

Judd Fuller....Simon Donaldson

Edward Grogan....Mark McDonnell

Briony McLean....Natalie Bennett

Ryan Slocum....John Kazek

Eve Cudden....Juliet Cadzow

Joe Toal....Laurie Ventry

Directed by Bruce Young.

John Rebus.... Ron Donachie

Ludo Lumsden.... Iain Robertson

Siobhan Clarke.... Gayanne Potter

Jack Morton.... Simon Tait

Tracy Minchell.... Irene Allan

Judd Fuller.... Simon Donaldson

Edward Grogan.... Mark McDonnell

Briony McLean.... Natalie Bennett

Ryan Slocum.... John Kazek

Eve Cudden.... Juliet Cadzow

Joe Toal.... Laurie Ventry

Directed by Bruce Young.

02Drama20160728A white beat cop tries to protect a picked-upon black teenager in a troubled area of DC.

Tonio is a teenager from a rough part of Washington DC who escapes his troubled life by playing pickup basketball. One afternoon, he impulsively insults some fellow players. They threaten him. He knows he's in for a long drawn out struggle. A seasoned white cop patrolling the neighbourhood tries to protect Tonio because he knows he's a good kid. The question is - what hope does a kindly cop have of preventing assault or worse? What will happen to Tonio now that a gang is after him?

String Music by George Pelecanos is from his short story collection The Martini Shot, adapted by Judith Kampfner. Crime writer Pelecanos tells stories about the area of DC where he grew up. For years, he's observed life on the streets, in the clubs, parks and playgrounds of a bad neighbourhood and listened to the diversity of voices in his community. He has been called 'the Zola of Washington DC and Emmy nominated for his TV work, writing and producing for The Wire and Treme.

String Music is set in the summer of 2001 when DC had one of the highest murder rates in the country. The streets that are home to Tonio and Sergeant Peters are especially violent this summer weekend when both the humidity and the tension rise.

This is the second in a two part series, Black and Blue, about black men and the police in America, recorded and produced in New York City and broadcast on consecutive days. The cast - many of whom performed in the TV series The Wire - all come from the area of Washington DC where the story is set, giving the drama authentic characters with the distinctive 'street' accent.

Sound Design by Charles De Montebello

Adapted and produced by Judith Kampfner

A Corporation for Independent Media production for BBC Radio 4.

02 LASTIan Rankin - Rebus20080705 (BBC7)
20130824 (BBC7)
While investigating the violent death of a North Sea oil worker in Edinburgh, Rebus becomes a suspect in the police hunt for a serial killer known as Johnny Bible. Undeterred, Rebus pursues both murder investigations, but soon begins to fear that the man responsible for a series of unsolved murders in the 1960s is also tracking his enquiries.

John Rebus.... Ron Donachie

Jack Morton.... Simon Tait

Ludo Lumsden.... Iain Robertson

Siobhan Clarke.... Gayanne Potter

Ryan Slocum.... John Kazek

Eve Cudden.... Juliet Cadzow

Mrs Slocum.... Irene Allan

Joanna Bruce.... Natalie Bennett

Edward Grogan.... Mark McDonnell

Judd Fuller.... Simon Donaldson

Stanley Toal.... Stevie Hannan

Directed by Bruce Young.