The chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police has admitted that a recruitment drive that relied on positive discrimination to increase the proportion of women and ethnic minorities in the force was “not appropriate”.
The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) began an investigation into recruitment at the constabulary last December after it emerged that candidates were being turned down because they were white, which contravened the Race Relations Act.
The force rejected 186 white applicants because its workforce was “over-represented by white men”. Only 51 officers out of the 3,314 working at the force are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
In its summer recruitment drive last year, 46% of successful applicants were white men, 49% white women and only 4% black and minority ethnic men and 1% black and minority ethnic women.
At the time, Avon and Somerset chief constable Colin Port defended the policy, known as ‘positive action’.
“By randomly deselecting from a group where we were vastly over-represented, we will make a difference,” he said in December last year. “The group on this occasion happened to be white men.”
However, after taking independent advice, Port said he realised the policy was “not appropriate” and that all applicants who had been excluded have been given the option to reapply.