Effective policing relies on the trust, confidence and consent of the public. As such, the MPS must be representative of the people who live and work in this global city. All of London’s diverse community should be able to see that it is their police service.
I have asked Deputy Mayor for Policing, Sophie Linden, and Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard [Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement] to develop an Action Plan on Trust and Confidence to tackle these vital tasks. This work has shown very clearly that diversity and inclusion remains a key concern for Londoners. We have made some progress over the last few years. Twenty years ago, for example, just 3% of MPS officers were from BAME backgrounds; today the figure is over 15%. This is still far from where I want us to be and I know that for many Londoners this progress will have felt very slow. To try to make more progress faster, the MPS is now actively targeting BAME recruitment and has transformed its attraction and recruitment processes, running targeted marketing campaigns, opening up new recruitment pathways, using local officers to act as positive role models and mentors, launching online information portals, and working with the College of Policing to tackle disproportionality within the national recruitment assessment process. I have also had discussions with the Commissioner [of Police of the Metropolis] about reintroducing the London residency criteria for new recruits in some form as soon as possible.
These efforts are welcome but we need to accelerate the pace of change, which is why key parts of the Action Plan on Trust and Confidence will be a focus on ensuring that our police service represents black Londoners. Crucially, I want to see communities involved in the recruitment and training of new officers and a renewed focus from the MPS, not just on diversity in recruitment but on retention and progression. This is happening against a background of uncertainty around Government funding for future recruitment. It is important that we get the funding resolved so that we can continue to work to recruit a police force that represents the Londoners it serves.
Thank you, Mr Mayor. It is really good to hear that there is some progress on this.
On those figures that you quoted, we see the MPS making some improvement where 14% of the officers come from a BAME background. However, when you delve in deeper only 3.4% are from the black community - not BAME, black - in comparison to 12.4% of black Londoners. Therefore, as a whole, there is still a lot more to be done.
Recently, at the MPS we have had senior MPS officers say that they think a radical and different approach needs to be taken, similar to the approach in Northern Ireland. Do you think that approach in the initial recruitment stage could help the MPS in addressing these figures?
I do, but it would be unlawful. I have looked into this, both in my previous life and also now. One of the challenges is that we do not have the same freedom that Northern Ireland had with legislation. The Equalities Act does not cover Northern Ireland. You will be aware post the Good Friday Agreement part of what the Northern Ireland Police service did was to have a 50/50 approach. We could not do that in our country - in England, in London - because legislation prohibits us to do so. Instead, we are talking to the Commissioner [of Police of the Metropolis] about using the equal merit provisions, which is allowed under the Equality Act. That is one of the things we are exploring with the Commissioner in the Action Plan we are working on.
To reassure you, Assembly Member Eshalomi [MP], this is really important to me. You are right, when you look below the figures it is black Londoners who have the least trust and confidence in the police and it is with black Londoners where we have not made the progress we really need to make in relation to giving them the confidence, help and support to join the police service and then to progress in the police service as well.
On that point of progression, we see a high proportion of black Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in London. They make up 14% of PCSOs, which again we should definitely welcome. PCSOs provide a valuable service to the police and in reassuring the community. A lot of them know the community so well. Is there any work that the MPS is doing to make sure those PCSOs then make the transition into full officers? I think this is something that would definitely help in terms of increasing representation. Is there anything you are aware of, or is there more that the MPS could be doing?
Yes, the MPS and the Commissioner [of Police of the Metropolis] deserves credit for this and they are working really hard. There is a larger number of BAME staff in the police staff, PCSOs and Special Constables. One of the things the MPS under this Commissioner has tried to do is see if those three places can be, if you like, ‘feeders’ into the MPS, and will continue to take efforts to do that. That is as well as all the other stuff we need to do to try to increase recruitment to the MPS as officers. One of the pools we are looking at is not just PCSOs but police staff and Special Constables as well.