Police recruiting policy under fire over ‘racism’

A would-be recruit, turned down by Gloucestershire police because he was white, has accused the force of creating an environment ripe for racial discrimination.

Matt Powell, an IT professional, was one of 108 applicants told they had been “randomly de-selected” from the recruitment process by Gloucestershire police.

It later emerged that nearly two-thirds of white men who applied to join the constabulary in the latest recruitment drive were turned down, whereas every ethnic minority candidate was invited for an assessment.

The force said it was obliged by law to bring the ethnic breakdown of its officers into line with that of the community it serves.

But in an exclusive interview with Personnel Today, Powell said such positive discrimination would create racist views. “Some people look at ethnic minorities as the enemy but it’s not their fault. It’s the people who put these rules in place,” he said.

In November 2005, Powell received a letter saying he had passed the first recruitment stage and would receive details of the next stage to take place at a police assessment centre. But in January he received a letter saying he had been “randomly de-selected” and his invitation had been withdrawn.

When he contacted the force to ask why he had been de-selected, no reason was given, Powell said. “That was just a cock-and-bull story,” he added. “There was nothing random about it.”

In a statement, Gloucestershire police said: “Having taken legal advice, we decided that priority should be given to those female and ethnic minority candidates who had successfully passed the first stage.

“We remain convinced that the process we have followed in this instance is both lawful and in the long-term best interests of all the communities we serve.”

Under the Race Relations Act, shortlisting or appointing candidates on racial grounds is unlawful.

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