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'Forces are not representative of their local communities'

'Urgent and radical' action is needed to tackle the gross under-representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) people in the police service.

A report by the Home Affairs Select Committee has revealed that not one force in England and Wales has a BME representation which matches its local demographic.

And committee chairman Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, has now called for a national 'Diversity Champion' to be appointed to collect and publish data, promote best practice and oversee a diversity lead in each of the 43 forces.

The report revealed:

  • Eleven forces have no BME officers above the rank of inspector
  • In 1999, two per cent of police officers in England and Wales were from a BME background, compared to 6.5 per cent of the population and 9.5 per cent of the UK workforce
  • By 2015, 5.5 per cent of police officers were from a BME background, compared to 14 per cent of the population, and 11.4 per cent of the UK workforce
  • There are no chief constables who are BME
  • As of October 2015, four police forces-Cheshire, North Yorkshire, Dyfed Powys and Durham-employ no black or black British police officers at all

Mr Vaz said: "The lack of black and minority ethnic representation in our police forces is stark and shocking, and no-one looking at this picture can believe it promotes effective policing.

"In order to police by consent in 21st century Britain, the police service must mirror the communities it represents, in religion, race and ethnicity. If not, it will be unable to deal with the challenges of modern day policing.

"If we compare the figures from 1999 and 2015, representation of the population in our police forces has progressed at a snail's pace. This was unacceptable in 1999 and it's totally unacceptable now.

"Despite good intentions from senior officers, diversity and representation in police forces has consistently failed to improve, we must take radical action now."

The committee says practical steps should be taken in each force, against which their performance should be assessed, including introducing coaching and mentoring for BME officers, more external assessors from BME background to be appointed to selection panels and diversity training for units who deal with complaints from officers on personnel matters.