A former cop with the UK’s West Midlands Police has claimed that some officers routinely used racial slurs against Sikhs and referred to Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai as ‘tikka masala’.
In a recent interview to Channel 4, Rebecca Kalam, who spent 10 years in the force’s firearms unit before leaving in July this year, said fellow cops referred to those wearing a turban with racist remarks, and didn’t bother to learn the difference between Sikhs and Muslims.
Among the many explosive claims made by Kalam was the one where protection officers for Malala Yousafzai, who was airlifted to UK for treatment after she was shot by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan, referred to her as ‘tikka masala’.
“These shocking allegations of racism made by whistle-blower Ms Kalam against the West Midlands Police come as no surprise. The Sikh community across the West Midlands has been making such complaints and claims for decades, but all have fallen on deaf ears of the force,” Jas Singh, advisor to the Sikh Federation, told news website BirminghamLive.
“Despite changes in senior officers and meeting with an elected PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner), nothing seems to change other than things getting worse,” Singh said.
Singh said that the community has called on West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and PCC Simon Foster to conduct a full root and branch investigation, and review into the conduct and racist attitudes and practices in the force.
Kalam, who was one of just seven female officers in the 235-strong unit of the UK’s second largest police force in the country, also complained of toxic masculinity and misogyny, where objectification of women was common and male cops regularly used the C-word.
“West Midlands Police need to take serious stock of what is happening within the unit. I can only speak from experience. I have lost my career. I am standing up, it is the right thing to do,” the 40-year-old told Channel 4.
The West Midlands Police has accepted 75 of Kalam’s complaints, according to Channel 4.
The new channel reported that the police force confirmed that a total of 16 officers and staff were given ‘low-level sanctions or advice’ following a Professional Standards Department probe into the firearms unit.
“Officers and staff in the Firearms Unit work tirelessly, often in the most risky situations, to protect the public and perform their duties with the utmost professionalism and they are disgusted at any conduct which falls below these standards of professional behaviour,” West Midlands Police Force’s deputy chief constable Scott Green was quoted as saying in BriminghamLive.
Green said that the force is working closely with the West Midlands Police Sikh Association and Sikh communities across the region to “understand diverse groups and communities to ensure we treat everyone with dignity and respect”.
Green said regular meetings with the community and religious leaders are held to discuss and address issues.
“There is no place for misogynistic, discriminatory or disrespectful behaviour in policing and we are working hard to set and reinforce the highest standards,” she added.