The controversy over alleged racism in Britain’s largest police force has deepened after it emerged that an officer of inspector rank has been arrested on suspicion of racist abuse.
The incident in which he is accused of using racist abuse occurred in Barnet, at 7.40am on Monday, while the inspector was off-duty.
He is the highest ranking Met police officer to be placed under investigation since the latest controversy over racism engulfed the force.
It is the 13th case of alleged racism by Met police officers to emerge in the past four weeks. In total, 27 police officers are now under investigation or facing prosecution over alleged racism.
Some were investigated after complaints from members of the public about the use of alleged racist language, or claims of racially-aggravated assault – others, such as claims of racist bullying, have been reported internally.
Officers under suspicion include PC Alex MacFarlane, 52, who will face criminal charges after being accused of racially abusing a black suspect.
A mobile phone recording of the alleged incident was revealed by the Guardian four weeks ago, prompting the current scandal. MacFarlane also stands accused of the same charge – racially aggravated public disorder – and will appear before magistrates next month.
PC Philip Juhasz, 31, was recently convicted of racially aggravated public disorder after telling a Pakistani takeaway manager in north London to “go back to your fucking country” after he refused to serve him discounted goods.
Juhasz was convicted despite a number of fellow Met officers giving evidence in his favour; he now faces a disciplinary panel.
The latest case is likely to alarm the commissioner of the Met, Bernard Hogan-Howe, who has pledged to “drive out” racists from the force.
Of the 13 Met police racism cases to emerge in recent weeks, only five are being handled by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which has said the Met must take responsibility for investigating racism complaints.
Hogan-Howe recently told parliament he would try to resolve the current cases “within four weeks”. Nearly all of the cases are related to officers stationed in north or east London, with a concentration of complaints about police stationed in the Olympic borough of Newham.
Last week, a black firefighter, Edric Kennedy-Macfoy, 28, claimed he was assaulted and Tasered by a group of police officers because of his skin colour.
Kennedy-Macfoy, who has lodged an official complaint, said he was insulted and arrested without good cause when he went to assist six policemen while off-duty as they were dealing with a disturbance last September.
In a statement about the inspector arrested on Tuesday, the Met said: “The male officer was arrested on suspicion of a Section 4 Public Order Act offence (racially aggravated words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress).
“He is at present on police bail and has been suspended from duties pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The IPCC confirmed it was supervising the investigation by the Met’s department of professional standards.