Trust and legitimacy are vital elements of British policing by consent. The police have worked hard to improve equality and diversity in policing. The workforce is more representative than ever before and there is a Code of Ethics in place. While recognising these significant improvements, we are not complacent.
Our drive to recruit 20,000 officers over three years gives us a significant opportunity to attract a wide range of people into a career in policing and support the police to become even more representative of the communities they serve. Work is already underway by forces and key partners to ensure they can attract a more representative workforce as part of the uplift in officer numbers.
The College of Policing has delivered a major programme of work to support forces in their efforts to address under-representation in the recruitment, retention and progression of officers, including those from BAME backgrounds, and has published advice on the lawful use of positive action to address under-representation in policing. This work includes measures to improve diversity at the most senior levels in policing, where there is the greatest disparity.
The Government has also supported innovative schemes such as Police Now which are making the police workforce more diverse than ever before; showing that we can attract the brightest and best into policing, whilst introducing new perspectives into policing from some of the country’s most challenging neighbourhoods.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council published its first Diversity, Equality and Inclusion strategy in October 2018. This is complemented by a workforce representation toolkit which includes practical actions forces can take to increase the recruitment, retention and progression of officers from under-represented groups in policing. This is a welcome demonstration of policing taking the lead in implementing action to increase diversity and In addition, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has agreed to focus more closely on how forces are performing on diversity and inclusion as part of its next round of Integrated Peel Assessments this year.
The Equality Act 2010 includes positive action provisions to enable employers to address identified under-representation of protected groups in the workplace, as is the case for BAME officers in the police. There is much greater scope than has been the case so far for the police to use the positive action provisions of equalities legislation to improve BAME recruitment and progression.
Some forces (such as the Metropolitan Police Service, Bedfordshire Police, West Midlands Police and Greater Manchester Police) have made significant improvements in the rate of BAME joiners through successful positive action measures. Other forces should be learning the lessons of the successful measures being used in these forces.