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'Money issue' hampers strive for BME representation

Janet Hills from the NBPA says a stalemate in recruitment and chief constables not being held to account is halting progress.
Published - 22/10/2015 By - Scott Docherty - Police Oracle

The strive for greater representation of ethnic minorities in the police service cannot be divorced from the issue of funding, a senior staff association representative has said.

Detective Sergeant Janet Hills, who is tipped to be the next president of the National Black Police Association (NBPA), says funding cuts are hampering attempts to increase diversity.

She told PoliceOracle.com: “When you talk about it, the money issue is always in the background, a large part of our membership is police staff and when nearly a third are going to be cut, that’s a lot of diversity we stand to lose.”

Earlier today, Home Secretary Theresa May told the conference she would be introducing diversity profiles that show the ethnic make up of each force.

She told the conference: “They reveal a hard truth that no force has a BME representation that matches its local demographic.”

DS Hills said although the issues of BME representation were raised and on the policing agenda, the Home Secretary’s address gave no clear direction on how to solve the issue.

She said: “It was the thing we have heard over the years from politicians, what I really wanted to hear was how is she going to hold chief constables to account?”

The Metropolitan Police officer says because BME targets are not directly linked to performance, they tended not to be prioritised by senior leaders.

Franstine Jones, current president of the NBPA, also called for force leaders to face consequences for failing to achieve a representative police force.

“Some forces are not doing anything and they don’t care that they are not doing anything,” she told PoliceOracle.com, “There is an operational need for diversity in police forces.

“A police force that is representative will understand the issues and customs within communities.”

In her speech to the conference, Ms May said there were currently four forces, Cheshire, Durham, North Yorkshire and Dyfed Powys, who had no black officers, a statistic that has turned out to be false.

PC Shazad Sadiq, an Asian officer from Durham Constabulary, said he felt many members of his community did not see policing as a viable career option.

He said: “With the diminishing wages of the police service, I don’t think it really reflects the job that you do, and I think that serves to make the police a career option for anybody.”

Tom Cuddeford, deputy chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, said despite the pressure to achieve a representation, he did not think it would happen “in the foreseeable future”.

He told PoliceOracle.com: “But you have got to have that goal to have a police service that is representative of the population, but I think it’s going to take a few years.”

Greater Manchester’s Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd released a statement accusing Mrs May of "breathtaking spin".

He said: “Theresa May rightly identifies the lack of diversity throughout the police service as a problem which serves neither British society nor British policing.

“But what she deliberately fails to spot is where the responsibility for that lies – it’s with her and her Government.

“Here in Greater Manchester we have lost more than 1,500 officers as a direct result of the massive cuts imposed by the Home Secretary – that’s a fifth of our workforce. Had we been allowed to replace those officers we would have been able to radically transform the ethnic make-up of the service. I can say with confidence that had we been allowed to continue to recruit there would now be at least 300 new police officers from ethnic minority backgrounds patrolling the streets of Greater Manchester today.

“But these cuts have meant we have missed that opportunity. And the blame for that lies squarely at the door of Theresa May. Her words may be fine but they are hollow and amount to nothing more than breathtaking spin.

“I’ve got a simple message for the Home Secretary: give us the money and we will transform policing to ensure it reflects the diversity of our society. But by continuing to deny us the money to properly fund policing you demonstrate that you are the problem.”

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