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Apr 11 2014

Institutionalised Racism at Harrow Council: “No Evidence Found”

harrow_council_logoHarrow Council has today published a report into claims of institutional racism at the authority.

The report was carried out by Dal Babu, former borough police commander of Harrow and an officer with 30 years’ experience in the Metropolitan police. Dal has also performed a national role on equalities as chair of the Association of Muslim Police Officers.

The investigation invited staff members to give evidence in confidence, either in person or by writing. More than 30 did so. After careful consideration, the 37-page document concludes there is no evidence of institutional racism at Harrow Council. However, it makes nine recommendations:

  1. Ensure managers and staff have their awareness raised on key faith and cultural events to ensure respect for all faiths and beliefs in order to deliver an effective service to all the communities.
  2. Review existing senior appointments panel processes in terms of recruitment agencies and diversity of panel, in line with the Supplier Diversity commitment in the Corporate Procurement Policy.
  3. Develop a comprehensive leadership and Mentoring programme for BAME staff.
  4. To review Equalities Task Group Chairs and consider that all four groups be chaired by tier three management personnel.
  5. Review Dignity at Work and Conduct Procedures findings and commission independent report on disproportionality in BAME staff initiating proceedings and / or being subject of Conduct Procedures.
  6. Ensure that lessons learnt from findings in Dignity at Work and Conduct Procedures are fed into the organisations and help to improve employee relations.
  7. Re-launch the BAME workers group with terms of reference for appropriate portfolio holder or Director to co-chair. Provide time for staff to attend.
  8. Harrow Council’s procurement and commissioning services can be more explicit in their desire to have staff from commissioned services reflecting the local BAME Community.
  9. Harrow Council to develop a specific communication strategy that explains its Public Sector Equality Duty and acts as a myth buster for its staff and the local community.

So, all is well and good, right? Well, actually, no.

iharrow.com has asked to see the Terms of Reference for the investigation as far back as March 19 – the date that the Council announced Dal Babu had been appointed. That request has been ignored so far. So, we’re not exactly clear what the investigation is about.

Dal’s report simply says, of the brief:

“Harrow Council is aware that a number of members of its staff and some elected members have made allegations of potentially discriminatory behaviour, based upon their race. The Council takes these allegations very seriously and with one of the most diverse communities in the country to serve, it is important that the Council puts in place appropriate mechanisms to review both these complaints and other views that have been expressed. The Council therefore wishes to appoint an independent investigator to review the complaints and other views expressed, to carry out an investigation into the issues raised by these and in particular support a conclusion as to whether or not there is any truth in the allegations made that the Council is “institutionally racist”. In reviewing these issues the Council would like the investigator to ensure that the conclusions are accompanied with recommendations, which will help the Council improve in its duties under the Public Sector Equality Duty and support the continued delivery of outcomes for the residents of Harrow.”

We understand – and await the Terms of Reference to be clear – that there was a ‘deadline’ of April 14th for the review to be completed, but Council Leader Susan Hall today said that the review and investigation should take “as long as it takes” and she goes on to say that she’d be happy to continue the work if any evidence of institutionalised racism had been found. But was setting a deadline the right thing to do?

According to documents seen by iharrow.com, three people expressed an interest in this piece of work:

  • Candidate A runs an agency specialising in the provision of research, development, social marketing and other key consultancy services in the field of the social management of change within global and multicultural contexts.
  • Candidate B has a background as a high-level director at another London council, where he spent 18-months before resigning in 2010.
  • Candidate C spent 30 years in the Metropolitan Police reaching the role of Borough Commander, before retiring in early January 2013, speaks multiple languages and has vast experience of Harrow.

So, we can see that all three candidates appear amply qualified to carry out the work, right? So how come two of them said that it probably wasn’t possible to do so in such a short time frame, with Candidate B going so far as to say “…in my professional opinion… I don’t consider that an effective and credible investigation could be produced by April 14th…”

And Candidate A apparently got “uninvited” from going to an interview just hours before he was due to attend. In fact, it was Candidate A who suggested that such a piece of work could take 3-6 months and cost in the region of £75,000.

The report is fine: and Dal rams home the point that he found “no evidence” of institutionalised racism during his review and investigation. In fact, he makes that very point six times. Sure, there are some issues with job applications versus employment places offered being disproportionate, but these probably aren’t unique to the Council.

Unfortunately for Leader Cllr Hall, she was in one of those all-too-familiar places with this one: between a rock and a hard place. Having promised back in October she’d do this review, and now facing uproar from ILG over the choice of investigator, the process and the terms of reference, she really couldn’t win. ILG clearly have some concerns over the who, how and when of this, but it boils down to three words: No. Evidence. Found.

You can download the report here.

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17 comments

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  1. mike mcfadden

    “Yeah” and pigs don’t fly either! Work it out.

  2. mike mcfadden

    In the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davis. “They would say that wouldn’t they!!”

  3. Krishna James (@CllrKJames)

    Shame opportunity missed in Harrow to correct years of Injustice. Result not surprising, Liverpool fans still waiting for justice. Residents of Harrow and Council staff loose out. Predictable Result!!!!!!!!!!!

    Cllr Krishna James. Independent Labour Group Chairman

  4. Krishna James (@CllrKJames)

    not surprised you moderate me!!

  5. sonoo malkani

    With all due respect,nobody in their right minds would be able to pronounce judgment against Harrow Council and dub it “institutionally racist “without IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE..Dal Babu would not have a leg to stand on without that and could have been held legally responsible for any damaging remarks against the Local Authority had he remotely considered taking that dubious route..He has delivered the maximum he can with whatever material has been provided by the staff whom he has interviewed quite extensively for the past four weeks.

    It’s no use getting excited if the outcome is not to your liking.No sense making noises to muddy the waters further..Best to concentrate on findings from this report and HELP IMPLEMENT the raft of important changes he has unequivocally stated need to be instigated.Only then will issues which have caused so much upset within the working life of staff in Harrow Council be addressed urgently and dealt with effectively.Please put your personal differences aside and work together for the PUBLIC of Harrow.That is your prime duty.

    It is evident from the remarks posted thus far,that the objection is directed to the investigating officer who was appointed and latterly to his findings,PRIOR the publication of his report,—in other words .more to do with the APPOINTMENT of the former Borough Commander,,Dal Babu,and not the preferred choice of some —a commercial agent(Candidate A) who has made clear that this inquiry could have taken 3 to 6 months and cost tax-payers a little fortune.!This seems to be at the centre of these objections and all the harsh words being uttered.

    Nobody is saying everything is perfect.In fact,much needs to be examined by Harrow Council.Best we let them get on with this important task of correcting the system,instead of throwing bricks at each other and finding fault at every imaginable opportunity.The Leader of the Council has promised to look into this as soon as possible.Less moaning,and more co-operation please—,in the interests of the residents and citizens of Harrow.

  6. sonoo malkani

    My comment is also awaiting moderation but I have no problem with it!

  7. Harrow Dude

    Sonoo I think you need to look deeper as to why the residents of Harrow have no faith in this alleged investigation into “Institutionalised Racism at Harrow Council”. it was never going to produce any other result then there is not. Susie is desperate to be the first elected leader of Harrow Council at any cost, and if you want to know how much she has spent since ousting Thaya I would suggest an FOI. The LGA has Harrow as high risk and my sources tell me they are not impressed by Susie so far don’t be fooled by Boris’ utterances.

    For the record I asked Susie if it was true Dal was in a relationship with one of her senior officers. I had no response to this. Why not? My sources tell me he is, and with his previous working relationship with Susie I do not think he was the best candidate to lead the investigation. With the upcoming elections the Leader of Harrow Council is not going to let racism be a problem bearing in mind the cultural populace of Harrow so in all ‘fairness’ this was a waste of time and money.

    When Susie joined forces with the ILG she pontificated about how badly the “first Sri Lanakn leader had been treated” and this was after there was a split in the Labour group with allegations of racisim. So forgive me for thinking that this is just more Susie Spin.

    These recommendations are just that and have been made many times before.
    Frankly it is just more political parlance nothing will change until those in charge change

    More than 30 staff including Councillors responded, which by the way Susie said this didn’t include.
    I have to ask how many staff were actually spoken to and who selected them. I wold presume that Harrow Council has some where near four thousand employees.

    I now have to ask Susie how many were asked for their views in this open, honest and transparent investigation.

    Over to you Susie and I mean over to you, not one of your minions or your spin doctor chap.

  8. Susan Hall

    How very unpleasant you are Harrow Dude. Dal Babu asked all the staff, e mails were sent out and everyone was asked to contribute if they wanted to. I had nothing to do with the investigation. Why dont you either read the report or ask Dal Babu, i am sure he would answer any of your questions as it was an open and transparent investigation. I would have thought that is a good thing that no institutional racism was found, I would have been devastated had it been because that would have meant that some staff would have been subjected to it – totally unacceptable. Very strangely some clearly were hoping that it was going to be found.

    As for talking about Susie spin, I am often quoted and evidenced doing and achieving things. I make no apologies. I work exceptionally hard and have achieved more in 6 months than Labour did in three years. If given the opportunity post May I will continue to work hard and have many new ideas that will improve things forHarrow residents. It’s a shame that some,like you, do not recognise hard work and success. So be it. You are clearly from another party and do not wish the best for Harrow residents. I do and will continue, certainly not deterred by comments like yours. Harrow residents deserve the best and that’s what they will get if they vote Conservatine on May 22nd

    1. Harrow Dude

      “Dal Babu asked all the staff. e mails were sent out and everyone was asked to contribute if they wanted to”
      You may find me unpleasant Susie,but I find you some what mendacious with your lyrics. All staff, really Susie? I would suggest not.
      Are you really expecting us to believe you had nothing to do with the investigation?

      As the strong Leader you suggest you are I ask you questions, as a resident of Harrow that is my right.

      I have asked you where you found the money to fund your big clean up because I heard you took money from Children Services (coincidentally two Senior Officers including the Director have now left) but apparently it came from a Leaders pot left by Bill Stephenson. I have asked you if it is true Dal is in a relationship with one of you officers because this could cast doubt on any outcome of an investigation due to a conflict of interest. You have yet to answer, I have also asked you for clarity on the facts and figures you have stated when blowing your trumpet.

      As you are the currently unelected Leader of Harrow Council I think that as a council-tax paying resident of Harrow I have the right to ask you questions as I would any one who announced their self “captain to steady the ship” of the borough that I have lived in for over forty years.

      You only care about you Susie and we can clearly see that with your photo-op after photo-op and the constant look at what I’ve done (praise me Boris). However you still fail to answer my question about the LGA… Is it true Harrow is now seen as high risk because you have spent all our funds, yes or no Susie? No spin just answer the question.

      You assume that I am from another party and we all know what happens when one assumes.
      For the record I am a resident of Harrow with no particular affiliation.
      I just want value for my money, Less Susie spin,. No more smoke and mirrors facts and figures.

      I understand as a politician you may find that an unaccustomed concept but that is what I and the residents of Harrow want.

  9. Timeforchange

    We still have not been given a single example of so called racism….why?!

    Well said Susan you really have done more in 6 months than Labour did in 3 years.

  10. Krishna James (@CllrKJames)

    As someone who has dedicated considerable amount of time in being a foot soldier for Labour Party, Activist for all my life and nursed in Harrow for some 15 years, as well as championing the the mental health community in Harrow, I speak from some point of credibility compared to local career politicians. ILG got together on basis of principal and right conduct, as a Hindu values which I try my best to live by. It is very easy to criticise the Stand we have taken one only has to see the happenings of September 2013 when 18 Clauses of 28 clause constitution of Harrow was set aside, in order to change the administration, it was unconstitutional to call a meeting before six months. All the political forces got together in the council Chambers and a great injustice happened in Harrow. Sonoo with respect I was there you were not. I have been there for the past six years, making many sacrifices but to Hold on to the truth and Justice and right conduct which this great country and the Labour movement stands for.I have been watching the goings on and it is not something to be very proud of. Many very hard working people people in harrow are being let down but then for me only people’s own concious can give them the answer if they bother to ask!!!
    Time is a great and Truth will come out as it always does!! People who want to pretend can. Thank you Harrow dude we need more people like you!!
    Cllr Krishna James
    Chairman Independent Labour Group

  11. King David

    Absolute shambles. waste of tax payers money and against all credible professional. The outcome was pre planned once a bogus appointment was made based on nepotism to showcase Susan in good light before election. It does not wash. Sonoo is living on cloud cuckoo land on this issue without knowing full details.

    All staff were not sent emails Susan. many were scared and did not present evidence they clearly had as they feared potential victimisation and threat to their job. evidence not found because no one had confidence in this farce and bad choice of appointment to serve political masters.

  12. Timeforchange

    And still no examples of alleged racism!!

  13. garth

    well said king david i spoke out and got the sack susie passed on confidential information that was for eyes only to her friend and bang .Listen they dont like and cant handle the truth i wouldnt trust susan hall with a smartie let alone stats.

  14. sonoo malkani

    I must admit being completely baffled by King David’s comment which ends “appointment to serve political masters.” Since when does a retired Metropolitan Police officer serve POLITICAL MASTERS.?This is news to me

    .Agreed ,I may not have all the details some of you claim to have but I am no fool.I may not be as savvy as some of you, but I do have a good idea of the Code of Conduct of the Metropolitan Police Service.Our police officers are obliged to and take an oath to remain APOLITICAL and serve “without fear or favour”.How can you plead fear of victimisation and threat to the job of potential evidence providers in the one breath and accuse a senior retired police officer of compromising his position in the other.Would he not be accountable to his paymasters?Let’s get real!This is a serious allegation itself.

    Rules have to be strictly observed and obeyed,even after retirement..Please think very carefully before casting aspersions and creating an air of suspicion just to rubbish the findings of this investigation.

    Perhaps it would be wiser to cool down,stop making undignified comments and allow the dust to settle.

  15. Harrow Dude

    Sonoo are you having a chuckle?

    “Perhaps it would be wiser to cool down,stop making undignified comments and allow the dust to settle.”

    Allowing the dust to settle is exactly what Susie wants but she still has questions to answer.
    The validity of this report is always going to be questionable when you consider that there were three candidates.

    One said it wasn’t possible to complete a credible investigation in the time specified (by who, I would presume Susie)

    One said it would take 3-6 moths to complete such a task and cost in the region of £75k (he/she had his invite to interview retracted)

    One said I can do that and “surprise surprise” he got the job. You couldn’t make it up and I await disclosure regarding the cost.

    This was a predetermined waste of residents money do you or anyone else really believe that Susie was going to have any other outcome so close to the election process? Of course not

    Sonoo I suggest that the next time you have your bins emptied ask the staff if they were asked to participate in this investigation. In fact ask any of the council staff you see on the streets be it transport, meals-on-wheels, traffic wardens, street cleaners etc . Let me know how many say yes

  16. Awula Serwah

    With racism so openly being talked about in Harrow, you may be interested to know I’m involved in an event on the subject, to which you are welcome to attend: the Look How Far We’ve Come: Getting Racism Back On The Agenda? Conference takes place on Thursday May 8 2014, 6-9pm at The Abbey Centre in Westminster. For more details or to book: http://www.LookHowFar.eventbrite.com.

    Hopefully you have no qualms about going into Westminster, knowing that their Thunderbirds theme won first prize at this year’s London New Year’s Day Parade, whilst Harrow’s Thunderbirds theme won the third prize: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UF4_CNrpTU.

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