London’s Metropolitan Police has stated that they have exhausted all lines of inquiry into the 1993 murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence, a case that exposed racism in the force and led to sweeping reforms.
Lawrence was 18 when he was killed in an unprovoked racist attack in Eltham, southeast London. Police quickly identified five suspects but bungled the investigation. Two of the suspects were eventually convicted in 2012, three remain at large.
After relentless campaigning by Lawrence’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, the failed police response to the murder was exposed in a public inquiry that became a watershed moment in the history of race relations in Britain.
The inquiry, published in 1999, found the Metropolitan Police was “institutionally racist” and recommended 70 reforms to the force and other institutions in an effort to combat racism in society as a whole.
It also led to the scrapping of the double jeopardy legal principle, which prevented a suspect from being tried twice for the same crime.
This allowed police to renew their efforts to prosecute suspects after failed attempts in the 1990s. After a forensic breakthrough, two of the original suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were tried in 2011 and convicted in 2012.
In 2013, police began a new phase of the investigation to try and prosecute the remaining suspects. From now on, detectives will review any new information that comes to light, and assess every two years whether any advances in forensic techniques could allow them to make progress.