Police Service urged to introduce local targets to boost diversity drive

Police forces may have to follow new ethnic recruitment targets under proposals set out by the government.

Policing minister Vernon Coaker today published a report into ethnic minority recruitment, retention and progression in the Police Service, which recommends that new local targets be introduced to drive up ethnic minority recruitment and improve retention and promotion opportunities.

The proposals come as new statistics, also published today, reveal that less than half of the 43 police forces have met their overall race targets set in 1999 following the Macpherson Report. Twenty forces hit their target and a further five were within reach, the Race Equality Ninth Annual Report says.

But 18 forces still fell short of the targets. The UK’s largest force, the Metropolitan Police, had a total of 8.2% ethnic minority police officers, far short of the 25% target set 10 years ago. West Midlands, the second largest force, had a target of 16%, but reached just 7.4% ethnic minority officers.

Coaker’s ethnic minority recruitment study suggests that new local targets for all police forces would help improve ethnic recruitment and continue the “good work” already done. It said: “In keeping with the approach on increasing local responsibility, ambitious targets should be selected and set on the most important issues locally including equality standards.”

Also among the recommendations are measures to introduce new positive action recruitment guidance, to be overseen by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) in conjunction with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. The NPIA may also be asked to introduce a targeted recruitment campaign to help those forces still unable to meet their targets.

Coaker said: “We need a Police Service that represents the public – a representative service will better understand and serve its local community and that is what I want us to work together to achieve.”

The Association of Police Authorities welcomed the proposals. Chairman Bob Jones said: “Today’s announcement on recruitment targets means that police authorities will be able to engage fully with local people and the police workforce to develop and set recruitment targets that are fully owned and supported by our local communities.”

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, agreed that it was important to continue to work towards a Police Service that represented the people it served.

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