Doreen Lawrence, who has campaigned for 20 years to rectify the failings of the British police service has been made a Peer of the House of Lords. Doreen will now have the title Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon. Baroness Lawrence was also awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2003 for services to community relations.
Jamaican born, Doreen Lawrence’s efforts to improve this important aspect of our world began in 1993 when her 18 year old son, Steven Lawrence was murdered by a gang during a racist attack in London. Soon after reporting the crime she realised that the police did not seem interested in bringing the perpetrators of the murder to justice. Instead of sitting back and allowing the gang members to get away with murder and the police force to get away with not carrying out it’s duty to convict the killers, she did everything she could to obtain witnesses and evidence to identify the killers and to expose the manner in which the police were failing to use this information which was so readily available.
Doreen Lawrence drummed up huge community, media and international support in aid of her campaign which eventually led to Home Secretary, Jack Straw launching a public inquiry known as the MacPherson Report to fully analyse the all information regarding Steven Lawrence’s death. The report concluded that the main reason for the failure to resolve the case was that the Metropolitan Police force was “institutionally racist” which is defined as “the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin”.
In total, The MacPherson Report resulted in 70 recommendations being made to improve the way the country is governed. Some of the main points ordered by the report include:
- Changes to the law to allow the retrial of previously incorrectly judged defendant (Double Jeopardy Law),
- Compulsory training for all police officers to deliver First aid at the scene of a crime
- Measures for improving confidence and trust in the police force such as open information through the Freedom of Information Act and independent inspections.
- Means to improving the handling of victims and witnesses and liaisons with families and communities
- Encouraging a more ethnically diverse police force
- Multicultural and anti-racist education incorporated in the National school syllabus
In addition to being the main trigger for the MacPherson report, Baroness Doreen Lawrence has also pushed for investigations into police corruption and improper undercover police conduct. The Baroness has also founded the Steven Lawrence Charitable Trust which has endeavoured to transform the lives of young people and enable them to overcome disadvantage and discrimination through bursaries and mentoring initiatives. The Trust has recently been working with Police and Crime commissioners to help them deliver fair policing practices that promote race equality and improved community relations.
Baroness Doreen Lawrence has changed the world for the good through devoting her life to fighting against injustice, corruption and for the promotion of equality and encouraging positivity for the young. For this she has been made a peer of the House of Lords but millions will recognise her for centuries to come as a truly great lady.