Metropolitan Police

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th April 1999.

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Photo of David Crausby David Crausby Labour, Bolton North East 12:00 am, 26th April 1999

What he is doing to enhance the recruitment, retention and promotion of black and Asian police officers in the Metropolitan police force. [80971]

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary held a conference on the recruitment, retention and progression of black and Asian police officers, at which he announced the targets that he would be setting for individual police forces throughout England and Wales, including the Metropolitan police.

The conference was attended by the majority of senior police officers and police authority chairs, and by members of the National Black Police Association. It looked at recruitment, retention and promotion and attempted to identify barriers within existing procedures that could adversely impact on ethnic minority officers. As a result of the conference, the Home Office will be developing a national strategy to help achieve those targets, which will be issued to all police forces in England and Wales, including the Metropolitan police, and to members of the National Black Police Association.

Photo of David Crausby David Crausby Labour, Bolton North East

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does she agree that the Government and metropolitan police forces throughout the country face a mammoth task in persuading black and Asian men and women that the police force offers them a genuinely rewarding career?

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I agree with my hon. Friend. It will be a massive task, but the police—in particular the Metropolitan police, who already have their own programme of work to tackle the recruitment, retention and progression of ethnic minority officers—must know that they have the support of the whole community in undertaking it. We will do what we can to help them, as will the community, and we are pleased at the initial response from within the ethnic minority communities, which are showing that they want to respond. We hope that we will see progress shortly.

Photo of Evan Harris Evan Harris Liberal Democrat, Oxford West and Abingdon

Does the Minister feel that the recruitment of settled ethnic minority candidates to the police force will be enhanced by the fact that their immigration status will be checked by their prospective employers under section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996—a measure which the hon. Lady was pledged to repeal when in opposition and which the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux and the Commission for Racial Equality have made clear has increased the amount of discrimination in employment practice?

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

The hon. Gentleman makes a ridiculous point and when he reads what he has said in Hansard, he will realise that. We must all unite to ensure that all people in ethnic minority communities are encouraged and persuaded to join the police force so that it is representative of society as a whole.