My latest column for the International New York Times, on the crisis surrounding Britain’s police.

Earlier this month, Theresa May, Britain’s home secretary, announced a public inquiry into reports that the Metropolitan Police had spied on a black family, even as the force was supposed to be investigating the racist killing of the family’s eldest son. Mrs. May called the revelations ‘profoundly shocking’ and said that ‘policing stands damaged today’.

The story goes back to 1993, when Stephen Lawrence, a young student who aspired to be an architect, was stabbed to death by a gang of white youths in southeast London. The Metropolitan Police’s bungled investigation of the murder soon became a cause célèbre in British politics, leading to much soul-searching about attitudes toward minority communities and the culture of policing.

A 1999 official inquiry into the police investigation already condemned London’s force as ‘institutionally racist’. It has now…

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