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Theresa May condemns lack of diversity in police forces

Published: 22/10/2015

The police in England and Wales do not represent the communities they serve and must increase ethnic diversity, the home secretary will say later.

Four forces - Cheshire, Durham, Dyfed-Powys and North Yorkshire - do not have a single black officer, she will add. Theresa May will also say there are no ethnic minority chief constables, adding that it is "not good enough".

Franstine Jones, from the National Black Police Association, said forces "need to recognise their black talent".

The College of Policing said it was trying to improve recruitment of ethnic minority officers, "but there are no quick fixes".

The four highlighted forces do have some officers from other ethnic minorities.

But Mrs May will tell the National Black Police Association conference that the 43 forces in England and Wales are not racially representative of the communities they serve.

She will also challenge police over the number of female officers, who currently make up 28% of the police workforce - despite representing 51% of the population.


Police numbers

  •             126,818 police officers in England and Wales
  •             6,979 Black and minority ethnic (BME) officers
  •             35,738 female officers
  •             The Met has the highest BME proportion (11.7%)
  •             Cheshire has the lowest (0.6%)
  •             Cumbria Police had the largest proportion of female officers (35.4%)
  •             City of London Police had the lowest (22.5%)

Source: Police workforce in England and Wales


Mrs May will say: "This comes on top of existing statistics showing that there are only two BME [black and minority ethnic] chief officers in England and Wales, and 11 forces have no BME officers above chief inspector rank.

"This is simply not good enough."

She will add: "Increasing diversity in our police forces is not an optional extra. It goes right to the heart of this country's historic principle of policing by consent.

"We must ensure that the public have trust and confidence in the police, and that the police reflect the communities they serve."

Rob Beckley, from the College of Policing, said the organisation was trying to improve the "recruitment, development, progression and retention of BME officers and staff".

"This will be a long and sustained journey," he said.

"There are no quick fixes and while attracting more BME candidates to the police service is vital, development of existing officers and staff is also key."

However, Ms Jones told BBC Radio 4's Today programme said BME officers faces "barriers" in their development.

"I think police forces need to recognise their black talent, because you have got officers who have got the skills, who have got the knowledge, it is just that in the police service they don't get the opportunity to be developed," she said.

'Knee-jerk reaction'

Mrs May's speech in Birmingham will also criticise claims that a rise in knife crime has been caused by a reduction in police stop and searches, calling it a "knee-jerk reaction on the back of a false link".

Changes were made after figures showed only about 10% of searches had led to an arrest, with black people six times more likely to be stopped than white people.

It comes after Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said he believed a rise in knife crime in London could be connected to large reductions in stops and searches by his officers.

In June, he told the BBC: "If we are getting to the stage where people think they can carry knives with impunity, that can't be good for anyone."

But Mrs May will say it is "simply not true that knife crime is rising because the police are no longer stopping and searching those carrying knives".

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