National Police Improvement Agency HR chief speaks out on police diversity problems

A senior police figure has spoken out about the low numbers of black or Asian officers that make it up the ranks of the Police Service.

Angela O’Connor, chief people officer at the government’s National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA), admitted that promoting black or ethnic minority staff across forces “is an issue”, and warned there are no role models for younger officers to aspire to.

The news comes as Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffurformally accused his boss, commissioner Sir Ian Blair, of race discrimination.

Ghaffur will allege the commissioner had a “golden circle” of white, favoured officers, while trying to freeze him out.

O’Connor, responsible for improving police recruitment and promotion across England and Wales’ 43 forces, told Personnel Today: “Getting black and minority ethnic staff into the service is an issue. You only need to look at the facts and figures. There are not enough role models we’ve only got one black chief constable.”

The Met Police, the biggest force in the country, is still far short of achieving its diversity targets. Just 8% of its workforce are from black or ethnic minority backgrounds, compared to the 25% target set in the wake of the 1999 Macpherson report, after the Stephen Lawrence enquiry.

O’Connor added the Police Service understood there were problems, and pledged the NPIA would work with forces to improve recruitment systems, career development and mentoring schemes for under-represented staff. The NPIA will introduce a high potential development scheme to improve promotion opportunities, she added.

“A number of different stances need to be taken – there’s never one answer,” she said. “A number of forces got great at recruiting, but it’s about the experience of minority staff, getting them to stay. The service recognises there is a lot to do.”

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