THE president of the National Black Police Association has accused Cleveland Police of‘watering down’ a damning report probing institutional racism at the force.

Charles Critchlow said Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer blocked his recommendation to involve the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) and he thought there was a coercive and unhealthy relationship between top brass and staff tasked with producing the 'equality review', he told an employment hearing brought by PC Nadeem Saddique, who is pursuing a claim of racial discrimination against the force.

Following an internal survey carried out at the force which revealed ‘significant potential issues around race discrimination’ Mr Critchlow was invited onto a scrutiny board to examine the evidence.

“I felt it would send a message that we were genuinely prepared to be open and accountable if the IPCC had been involved. My concern was that matters could be brushed under the carpet but the chief constable was totally against it and there was no debate,” he said.

“From the first report to the fourth, they were being watered down. My primary concern was that some of these matters – some of them criminal – were not being responded to.”

He added: “There was a culture at Cleveland Police where the relationship between my colleagues and the chief officer team was unhealthy, it felt like a coercive relationship. There were extra board meetings, secret meetings, these tactics were unhealthy.”

Mr Critchlow also told the hearing on its sixth day held at Teesside Magistrates’ Court in Middlesbrough, that he disagreed with Mrs Cheer’s decision to hold an ‘amnesty’ permitting officers to report racism within the ranks.

“A chief constable does not have the authority to hold an amnesty in the event of criminal acts so far as I’m aware. She should not have given an amnesty.”

The tribunal also heard from former Cleveland Police officer Mark Dias who was part of an action group to help improve the position of BME (black, minority and ethnic) officers within the force and at a meeting with Mrs Cheer to discuss the interim equality review report, she told members of the Cleveland Black Police Association that it contained a ‘resonance of institutional racism’.

“I recall commenting that this was a significant moment as we never expected a chief constable to admit institutional racism within the police service," Mr Dias added.

Cleveland Police deny the allegations. The tribunal continues.