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Urgent Action Needed to Diversify the Police

Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner has previously stated “It will be 100 years before the police represent its community”

It has come to light that last year only 3% of staff at Kent Police were from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and only 4% of constables were BAME, that is 82 compared to 1,908 white officers.

Lola Oyewusi, who was the first black woman to be selected as a candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, said that Kent Police doesn’t reflect the community it serves.

“People from our community need to be able to trust the police more but when you don’t see people that look like you, that you can feel confident enough to actually talk to, then it’s not going to happen”

BAME communities are under-represented within the police and over-represented in their frequency of interactions with the police.

“On the current rate of progress, we will not have properly representative police forces in England and Wales for another 20 years”, The Home Affairs Committee warned.

Currently, 7% of the police force in England and Wales is from BAME communities and the Committee wants it to be 14% in 2030.  The Met is the most diverse with 15.4% of their officers being from BAME communities; however, London’s community is 40% BAME meaning their representation is still low.

In 2019 the Met found that 4% of its senior officers were from BAME communities and this hasn’t increased since 2013.

There was an inquiry run by the committee to examine the progress made from the Macpherson report 22 years ago. The 1999 Macpherson report looked at the failings of police investigating the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, with “institutional racism” being one of the findings.

Since the report has been published there have been improvements in policing racially motivated crimes, and in the commitments made to promoting equality and diversity.

“But our inquiry has also identified persistent, deep-rooted and unjustified racial disparities in key areas including lack of progress on BAME recruitment, problems in misconduct proceedings and unjustified racial disparities in stop and search.”

The main objective of the Macpherson report was to “eliminate racist prejudice and disadvantage and demonstrate fairness in all aspects of policing” and this hasn’t yet been met.

In July 2021, Stephen Watson, the chief constable of Manchester police, rejects the claim his force is “institutionally racist”; despite findings that its officers are 5 times more likely to stop and search black people than white people.

There was a discussion on LBC recently where the topic of diversity within the police force was mentioned. They talked about how The Met over the last couple of years has spent £4.7 million on campaigns to help increase recruitment of people from BAME communities but the participants on the show didn’t believe that was solely the problem with diversity.  The National Police Chiefs’ Council review said that BAME officers are 5 times more likely to be the victims of misconduct but themselves twice as likely to be disciplined when complained about. The programme participants also discussed the difficulties faced by BAME officers when seeking promotion.  In 2019 The Met said that ethnic minority officers were more likely to leave in the first two years than white colleagues.

Kent Online:
The Guardian
Cressida Dick