Fast-track scheme targets foreign-speaking police officers

Applicants
who speak languages such as Turkish, Bangladeshi and Hindu will be fast-tracked
into the police service under a positive discrimination scheme being considered
by the Home Office.

Ministers
hope that the plan to recruit foreign speakers, in preference to applicants who
only speak English, will boost the number of non-white officers and improve
race relations within minority communities.

The
initiative, revealed to The Independent
newspaper by Hazel Blears, the minister in charge of policing, would involve
adopting a system where applicants with a foreign language such as Indian,
Pakistani, Turkish or Bangladeshi would be recruited first, providing they
passed entry requirements.

Blears
told the paper: "If you have got a range of equivalent applicants, you can
then say I need these particular skills. I think we should examine what the
legal position is at the moment and see are there ways we can make the existing
law work better in terms of drawing people in."

The
idea is likely to be criticised by some as a backdoor quota system that
discriminates against white Britons.

Police
forces are struggling to reach targets to reflect the ethnic breakdown of the
people they police by 2009. This means that the Metropolitan force, for
example, must increase the number of ethnic minority officers from about 6.5
per cent to 25 per cent – the equivalent of 7,500 officers – in less than five
years.

By Mike Berry 

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