The Home Office has all but abandoned plans to ensure one in four members of London’s Metropolitan Police Service is drawn from ethnic minorities by 2009.
The target of 25.9% has been widely regarded as unrealistic, principally because the Met has such low staff turnover. It is particularly onerous when compared with the 7% target imposed on other forces in England and Wales.
Only 8% of Met staff are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, and just 20% are female.
Martin Tiplady, HR director at the Met, told Personnel Today that the Home Office had now come to realise that the diversity targets were “just a pipe dream”.
“We haven’t talked about that figure in ages,” he said.
“The target for new recruits [rather than an overall headcount] is what can make the difference.” Currently, 17% of new Met recruits come from ethnic minority backgrounds, while 35% of new recruits are women, he said.
A Home Office spokeswoman admitted there had been discussions, but said the original targets still stood. “It is a challenging target and there remains a lot to be done, but we are pleased with progress so far,” she said.
The debate over how to make the Metropolitan Police Service more representative of the London community has become increasingly polarised in recent months.
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, has called for positive discrimination, which would exclude white recruits in favour of minority applicants, calling it “a matter of national security”.
Controversially, the Met already gives preference to ethnic minorities when it comes to starting training once they have been recruited. This means white recruits could wait years before starting training.
Is there a case for positive discrimination?