Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick has admitted the police force ‘is not free from racism or discrimination’ as it launches its race action plan today.
Forty per cent of its new recruits from 2022 must be from an ethnic minority background under the action plan, which has been formulated alongside London’s mayor Sadiq Khan.
Diversity in the police
Khan acknowledged that the Met had made significant progress since the Macpherson inquiry, which looked into the way the death of Stephen Lawrence had been investigated, and noted that it had more than 5,000 officers from ethnic minority backgrounds, up from just over 3,000 a decade ago.
There are also nearly 10,000 police staff of whom over 26% are from an ethnic minority background.
But consultations with more than 400 individuals and groups that either work with or within black communities said they wanted to see: increased transparency in police actions, decisions and communications; a police service that reflects the city it serves; and improved community monitoring and involvement in reviewing the use of police powers and complaints.
Dick said: “I want the Met to be the most trusted police service in the world. We have made a lot of progress over many years, but there is much more to be done.
“I recognise trust in the Met is still too low in some black communities, as is their trust in many other institutions. I feel very sorry about that. It is something I have worked to change and I commit now to stepping up that work further.
“My top two operational priorities are reducing violence and increasing public confidence in the Met, particularly the confidence of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Actions are more important than words and, as I have said before, we can do more and we will.
“The Met is not free of discrimination, racism or bias. I have always acknowledged that and do now again. In the Met we have zero tolerance of racism. My job is to continue to try to eliminate any such racism and discrimination, however it appears.”
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) intends to:
- Build its outreach recruitment programme to encourage more black Londoners to consider a career in policing
- Increase promotion opportunities for black officers through initiatives including positive action workshops
- Train new recruits in understanding the history of the local area they will police, including cultural history, lived experiences and challenges faced by those communities
- Refresh stop and search training
- Centre officer safety raining on de-escalation, and involve representatives from black communities in this training
- Work with additional youth engagement officers who will work with schools to encourage more young black people to join the Met
- Continue working with Middlesex University to develop a cultural awareness toolkit for Met officers and staff
- Re-introduce the London residency requirement for most entry-level roles.
City Hall will involve communities in regular meetings to review the progress made against the action plan’s objectives.
Sadiq Khan said: “In London, we pride ourselves on a being a beacon of diversity and a city that is both fair and inclusive, but the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer, which followed the tragic killing of George Floyd, highlighted how much more we have to do to improve trust and confidence among the black community in our public institutions.
“Through the development of this action plan, we’ve listened and responded to the continued frustrations of black Londoners, who are concerned about the disproportionate use of some police powers. It’s simply not right that black Londoners have less trust and confidence in our police service and it’s something I am determined to resolve.”
Janet Hills, chair of the Met’s Black Police Association, said: “It is encouraging to see that the Met have agreed to make significant changes as a result, particularly around the recruitment of black police officers and those that define themselves as black, to ensure greater representation of police officers and staff at all ranks.
“Black Londoners should view the police service as an employer of choice, and have confidence in them to deliver a fair and equitable service. We will continue to do everything we can to improve the working environment of Black police officers and staff within the MPS.”