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London, Northern Ireland police in racism inquiry

LONDON - Police chiefs in London and Northern Ireland said Friday they had suspended officers from duty following a raft of new investigations into alleged racism, including some cases reported by police staff to their superiors.

London’s Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest police force, said it was dealing with 10 new race-related complaints from 20 staff, among them an allegation that an officer used a racial slur while arresting a black man in the aftermath of riots last August.

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Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said a total of eight officers have been suspended while the cases are investigated by the police standards watchdog.

In Northern Ireland, four police officers were suspended from duty after discovery of racist and sectarian text messages.

“We expect our staff to behave ethically and with the utmost integrity at all times both on and off duty,’’ the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement.

As part of attempts to address Roman Catholic alienation within Northern Ireland, reform of the then overwhelmingly Protestant police force was a central goal of the US-brokered Good Friday peace accord of 1998 in Northern Ireland.

Under the deal, the IRA renounced violence in 2005, and in 2007 the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party accepted the lawful authority of the Northern Ireland police for the first time. Protestant leaders responded by forming a unity government with Sinn Fein as the Good Friday pact intended.

Since then, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has risen to 29.76 percent Catholic. In 2001, the force it replaced - the Royal Ulster Constabulary - was 8.3 percent Catholic.

London police have long attempted to tackle allegations of racism. A major report commissioned in the wake of the 1993 death of a black teenager concluded that Scotland Yard was “institutionally racist’’ and had failed to properly investigate the killing because of its hostility to London’s black community.

Superintendent Leroy Logan of the National Black Police Association said that while race relations have improved since the report, he was “disappointed’’ by the force’s apparent failure to take effective action following years of feedback from black communities.

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