British Transport Police diversity chief backs government plan to set gender targets for police service

The British Transport Police’s (BTP) diversity chief has backed government proposals to set gender targets in the Police Service.

The Home Office is consulting with forces in England and Wales over whether goals should be set for recruiting more women to increase diversity and help police forces better reflect the communities they serve. Women currently make up 23% of police forces nationally, compared with 44% of the working population.

Kerry McCafferty, BTP’s head of diversity, told Personnel Today: “There should be nationally set gender targets for the Police Service as women are under-­represented. I can’t see an argument for not doing targets. If [the service] has got them for race, it’s the same from a gender point of view.”

McCafferty added that forces already reported on recruitment and diversity issues under the public sector equality duties imposed upon them, so further monitoring would not create extra work. “Setting targets allows you to highlight issues and come up with a plan,” she said.

The British Association for Women in Policing is calling for the government to take further action by legalising affirmative action. This would mean employers would be allowed to favour applicants from under-represented groups as long as they had reached the necessary recruitment standard.

Liz Owsley, the association’s national co-ordinator, said: “Something drastic like that must be done if anything is to change.”

However, many police HR directors believe existing, legal methods of encouraging minority groups to apply have not yet been used to their full potential.

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