Merton Council is set to launch its response report into the Macpherson Inquiry: the report into the tragic death of Stephen Lawrence.

The launch due to take place on 2 February and hosted by the Mayor of Merton will include an outline of what Merton has done to meet the recommendations of the report and what plans it will be implementing. Gurbux Singh, Head of the Commission for Racial Equality, will also be in attendance.

Local authorities already have legal obligations to eliminate racial discrimination and promote equality of opportunity, primarily from the Race Relations Act.

Merton is one of the first Councils to produce a written comprehensive response to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry following a call from the Home Secretary to address its recommendations.

The Council is committed to race equality in the borough. It is believed that Merton is unique in being the only authority in the country to deal with this issue through a Scrutiny Review Panel and because it is being so open in evaluating where it stands in tackling racial discrimination and harassment.
Merton has already accepted all 77 recommendations made by the Scrutiny Review Panel and has begun to implement them.

The recommendations set to be implemented include:

 Macpherson definitions of institutional racism accepted and Equal Opportunities policy and practice to be reviewed.
 Commission for Racial Equality “Race Equality Standard Level” three to be achieved by 2003.
 Improving reporting, recording and responding to racially motivated incidents and crimes through a multi agency approach.
 Progressing partnership working, such as encouraging housing associations to work towards the council’s guidelines to ensure consistency of good service delivery to potential and actual victims of racial harassment.
 Strategies to encourage more ethnic minority teachers and school governors. Schools will also be asked to monitor the number of racist incidents and these figures will be published annually on a school by school basis.
 Recruiting more people from ethnic minorities at senior level and more Asian employees.

Councillor Peter Holt, Leader of the Council, said: “I am extremely pleased to be in the position to say that Merton Council is ready to launch its response to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.

“It is hard to underline just how important a document it is, not just for Merton Council, but for everyone in the borough, whatever their ethnic ba