Due to public pressure an inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence was agreed in 1997. Sir William Macpherson, retired high court judge led this inquiry into the conduct of the police during this murder investigation. An extensive report which is known to be The Macpherson Report analyses institutional and individual behaviour of the police during the murder investigation of Stephen Lawrence. This report criticises the Metropolitan Police (Police force in London) and concludes that the police did not carry out the investigation in an appropriate manner. The report labels the Metropolitan police force to be institutionally racist.

The Report, which was published in 1999, highlights the Metropolitan Police’s key areas of failure during the investigation: 

  • The first officers to arrive at the crime scene did not administer first aid to Stephen Lawrence.
  • They were also accused of being insensitive and racially stereotyping Stephen due to his ethnicity.
  • Key witnesses of the incident such as Stephen’s friend (Duwayne Brooks) who was with Stephen when he was murdered was not treated appropriately as a victim.
  • Liaison officers were unprofessional, unhelpful and insensitive towards the victim’s family following the murder.
  • During the investigation racially offensive language was used by some of the police officers when speaking about the victim.
  • The police did not inform the Lawrence’s about the cases progression.
  • Even though there were grounds for the suspects to be arrested due to many informants naming the same suspects, the police did not arrest them, allowing vital evidence to be destroyed.
  • The surveillance on the suspects was unorganized and did not result in any progression.
  • The police searches of the suspects’ houses were not thoroughly carried out. The police had received hints where the suspects hid their knives which were not followed up.
  • Contrary to evidence given by key witnesses the officers in charge refused to accept the crime was racially motivated or even consider it a possibility.