Metropolitan Police HR director Martin Tiplady has backed calls for positive discrimination in the police force – despite admitting it would be a nightmare for HR to manage.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) last month called for a change in the law to allow forces to push applications from white males to the bottom of the recruitment pile.
Tiplady told Personnel Today that such action was the only way to get the police service to resemble the communities it serves.
But he insisted that a Home Office target of 7% of officers in England being from non-white backgrounds by 2009 was not the driver for change. “We would be doing this without the Home Office targets,” he said. “I think it is important for the Met Police to look like London.”
Almost half of enquiries for all jobs at the Metropolitan Police are from non-white applicants. But only 8% of police officers serving in the capital are non-white. Tiplady said he would like to increase this to 25% to better reflect London’s diversity.
“Positive discrimination is the only way to speed this up. It is not ideal and it would be difficult to manage, but it is the only way,” he said. “When one makes decisions that are overtly discriminatory, it will have implications for HR. If a minority is to be given preference, then morale will drop.”
Acpo wants the government to pave the way for positive discrimination when it formally responds to the Trevor Phillips-chaired Equalities Review in the autumn. But Tiplady said: “Do I think positive discrimination will happen? No. There is not the political will. I can’t see a scenario that will allow it to happen.”
How the positive discrimination bandwagon has gathered pace
- April 2007 Association of Chief Police Officers calls for a law change so that “priority could be given to minority ethnic and female applicants”.
- March 2007 The Equalities Review recommends “repeal of existing legislation that limits positive action”. Review chairman Trevor Phillips said organisations should be able to draw up job ads asking for non-white applicants.
- January 2007 A government-commissioned report backs the use of contract compliance, used in the US to set numerical goals And timetables for employment of ethnic minorities by firms doing business with the state.
- December 2006 Trevor Phillips marks his exit from the Commission for Racial Equality with a speech calling for a law change to allow employers to take “special measures” in favouring non-white applicants.