Police: Equality

Home Office written question – answered on 28th October 2015.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Leader of the Liberal Democrats

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to encourage diversity in the police service.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

It is vital that the police reflect the communities they serve and the Government is determined to improve BME representation in all 43 forces in England and Wales.

Decisions on when and how to recruit individuals are for the chief officer of a police force. It is important that they use equalities legislation, including positive action provisions, to make better progress in terms of recruitment of under-represented groups.

My Rt Hon. Friend, the Home Secretary announced on 22 October the publication of data showing the gender and ethnicity of police officers by force area. This will make it easier for the public to access the data they need to see how representative their force is compared to the local population. It is clear that the current representation of women and officers from minority ethnic backgrounds in the officer ranks is not good enough and the Home Secretary has challenged forces to do more.

The Government's reforms have already made improvements. For example, we set up the College of Policing, which has embarked on a major programme of work, BME Progression 2018, looking at recruitment, retention and progression of black and minority ethnic officers, including the development of an evidence base of successful approaches used by forces.

As part of this programme the College recently published Positive Action Practical Advice, which advises forces on the use of lawful positive action to support the recruitment, retention and progression of officers from under-represented groups, and it has published case studies from forces showing what can be done.

We have also developed innovative schemes such as Direct Entry and Police Now. These are increasing the number of BME recruits to the police, showing that you can achieve better representation while attracting the best and the brightest into policing.

Of the nine direct entry superintendents who began their superintendent training on November 2014 four (44%) are women and two (22%) are from an ethnic minority background. This is significantly more representative than the current make up of the superintendent rank which is comprised of 17% women and 4% ethnic minority.

Police Now, implemented in the Metropolitan Police, appointed 69 people to start their training, up from an anticipated 50 owing to the high calibre of applicants. Of these, 43% are women and 9% are from a BME background, compared to the national BME proportion of 5.5%.

With the joint leadership of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the Commissioner, the Metropolitan Police also introduced its London residency criteria for recruits in August 2014. Recent Metropolitan police figures show that in the three months from June to August 2015, 26% of new Metropolitan police recruits came from a black or minority background, more than double the 12% recruited in the same quarter of 2014, and the 12% of Metropolitan police officers currently from a black and minority ethnic background.

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