Select Committee on Home Affairs Seventh Report

6  Workforce

296. The final area we consider is the police workforce: officer strength, recruitment and retention, the role of PCSOs, and progress against diversity targets to ensure that the police force represents the population it serves.

297. As of 31 March 2008, the 43 area police forces in England and Wales employed:

  • 141,859 full-time equivalent police officers (with an additional 2,579 officers employed by the British Transport Police, and 502 officers seconded to central services such as the NPIA and HMIC);
  • 76,948 full-time equivalent police staff;
  • 15,805 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs); and
  • 14,547 special constables, who constitute a voluntary resource for the police.[331]

Police numbers

298. Police numbers increased dramatically in the last quarter of the 20th century and the early 21st century, from 108,000 in 1977 to over 140,000 in 2006.[332] These large increases appear to have been halted: following an increase of 369 between 2006 and 2007, there was a decrease of 33 officers nationwide between March 2007 and March 2008.[333] There is a mixed picture across the country, with nineteen forces increasing their officer strength, particularly Gloucestershire and West Mercia and Derbyshire, and 24 forces reporting falls, the largest in percentage terms being Durham and North Yorkshire.[334] Although numbers may be historically high, they are still low in comparison with other countries. In 2003 there were 264 police officers in England and Wales per 100,000 of the population, compared to a European average of 357. In New York, there are approximately 457 police officers per 100,000 of the population and in Chicago the average is 467.[335]

299. Some understood from Sir Ronnie Flanagan's Review of Policing that he proposed a reduction in officer numbers. However, he told us: "I am certainly not advocating any reduction in the number of police officers. What I am saying is I cannot see the increase that we have enjoyed over recent years being sustained".[336]

300. The Minister of State said that the Home Office position was to maintain 140,000 officers, adding that the Government's chief concern was "to ensure that more of the 140,000 were freed up to get on with the policing, on the frontline and on our streets, rather than simply a fixation … on defining good policing as just a number".[337] Bob Jones, the Chair of the APA, agreed that this was a priority for police authorities:

    We have probably been seeing an increase in police officers, though part of that of course is driven by the continued growth of the counter-terrorism units. I think there will ultimately be net increase. I would say the theme that all police authorities are united on, whether the numbers are going up or down, is about releasing more police officers to the front line.[338]

301. There has been a slight decrease in officer strength between 2007 and 2008. We would be concerned should police numbers reduce significantly. However, we accept that police forces and authorities should focus on how officers can be deployed in the most effective way rather than concentrating on maintaining an arbitrary number of officers.


302. In our Police Funding inquiry, police representatives suggested that uncertainty over police pay could affect future recruitment and retention. We concluded that, whilst we had seen no short-term evidence of recruitment and retention problems, the issue should be kept under review to guard against the possibility of problems developing in the longer term.[339] In this inquiry, we were told by the East Midlands collaboration that, "generally there is no problem recruiting police officers and the quality of applicants is good".[340] Thames Valley Police have ten applicants for every one place; the national average is six per place.[341]

303. The Police Federation admitted in its written submission that "on the surface, the number of individuals applying to be police officers appears to outweigh the number of vacancies available." However, it also stated: "there is still a gap in our understanding about the quality and consistency of applicants to the force".[342] Its Chairman, Paul McKeever, explained: "it does appear that there is not good record keeping in relation to those who fail to get in the service, so we are not sure how deep the quality is of those applicants who are applying".[343] He was unwilling to make a judgment on how new recruits compared with previous generations in this respect.

304. The ACPO lead officer for workforce development, Chief Constable Peter Fahy, has written in Police Review that "most forces have no difficulty in recruiting police officers or police staff; the challenge is how to recruit the best quality people. In time however, an ageing population may cause employment shortages".[344]

305. The East Midlands collaboration was concerned about future recruitment, because of the impact of decisions on pay and changes to pensions and conditions. This followed large-scale demonstrations in January 2008 against the decision of the Home Secretary not to abide by the Police Arbitration Tribunal's recommendation to award a pay rise of 2.5%.[345] Although none of the officers we spoke to during our inquiry mentioned pay in connection with their future in the service, the 2007 pay award may have a negative effect on recruitment, as well as retention. The recent announcement of a three-year deal to award increases of 2.65% in 2008, 2.6% in 2009, 2.55% in 2010 has, however, been more positively received.[346]

306. The Police Federation's General Secretary, Ian Rennie, warned about the difficulties of making up any recruitment shortfalls very quickly because of the amount of training and years of experience it takes to produce an effective officer.[347]

307. During our inquiry, we saw little evidence of a problem in attracting candidates to the force, or of any concerns about applicant quality. However, we note police representatives' concerns about future recruitment, given concerns about pay, changes to terms and conditions and an ageing population. It can be difficult to make up any recruitment shortfalls very quickly because of the amount of training which officers need to undertake. The Home Office should continue to monitor applicant to vacancy ratios.


308. The Home Office notes that only 1.5% of officers voluntarily left the police service in England and Wales in the year ending 31 March 2007, in comparison with 11.5% across the whole economy, and 7.8% across the public sector.[348] The "wastage rate", which is the total leaving as a proportion of total officer strength but includes those transferring to other forces, was 6% for the year to 31 March 2008, as it had been for the previous two years.[349]

309. However, police forces giving evidence were concerned about retention, including the East Midlands collaboration:

    Turnover is another matter. The region has seen increasing numbers of officers leaving as people concentrate on quality of life. Northamptonshire have experienced significant retention issues during the last two years. The areas of specialism that have been particularly hard hit are accredited investigators and firearms officers. Both specialisms have seen a drain of numbers to the Met and City of London.[350

The Director of Resources at Thames Valley Police, Mrs Teasdale, outlined their concerns:

    The overall turnover rate for police officers is consistently, over about the last six years, between about 7% and 8%. In any one year, about 2% to 3% is due to retirement; 2% to resignations, and the rest are transfers out. In relation to the transfers out, it is not the number; it is when you add them onto other people leaving— the normal turnover, if you like—and add capacity within the organisation to deal with the number of recruits that have to come in to replace them and the loss of experience.[351]

310. Losing officers to the Metropolitan Police, particularly specialist officers, is a problem for forces in the surrounding areas. Thames Valley Police have lost 242 officers in this way over the last five years. Chief Constable Sara Thornton argued: "We believe that the different levels of pay in the Metropolitan Police Service contribute to that significantly and the free travel, from areas such as Thames Valley, up to 70 miles away from the centre of London also contributes to that."[352] Metropolitan Police officers are paid around £3,000 per annum in London Weighting Allowance, while experienced officers who transfer across may also qualify to receive a rent or housing allowance of nearly £6,000 per annum, or will otherwise receive an additional allowance of another £3,000 per annum. They are also entitled to free travel.[353]

311. Chief Constable Thornton described the impact of these losses:

    Over the five-year period it was 1,038 officers transferring from those forces [all the forces surrounding London plus Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire] to the Metropolitan police and at least 261 were specialists. When I say specialists, I mean firearms officers, detectives, or road policing officers. So about 25% were specialists. Of course we are concerned that we lose experienced officers. Even if we can replace them with new ones, we are losing experience, but it is also the cost. We have calculated that the cost of training a constable is £55,000 for a normal constable, going up to firearms officers to £77,000. If you think about it, if 20 officers transfer, even at £55,000 it is £1 million. Our concern is that, in all these areas surrounding London, local people are paying for the training of their local police and the benefit is being felt in London.[354]

312. The Metropolitan Police Service and Authority argued there is a two-way flow of recruits and insisted that they do not deliberately target outer London areas.[355] Chief Constable Thornton noted the two-way flow is very unequal one: over the last two financial years, 121 transferred to the Metropolitan Police, with only 8.6 transferring from the Metropolitan Police, three of whom were Thames Valley officers in the first place.[356]

313. Chief Constable Thornton told us about Thames Valley's efforts to attract and retain officers:

    We have a good housing scheme and we also make use of the DCLG housing schemes. This assists about 550 officers to start, so that is quite considerable. We are also now using 3% of our pay budget for Special Priority Payment in the south of the force—which is an awful lot of our money, and that is an increase—to try to give those officers who are in the south of the force, and therefore more likely to find it easier to work in London, a bit more money.[357]

Thames Valley Police is arguing for the flexibility to increase the South-East Allowance, which was introduced five years ago at £2,000 and has remained at that level. [358]

314. The Metropolitan Police has since agreed to give neighbourhood forces advance warning about the number of officers they are planning to recruit, pass details of numbers of applicants from neighbouring forces to them to help anticipate shortfalls, advise on recruitment issues and work with the Home Office towards a long term solution.[359]

315. One issue that was raised by two command teams during our visits as having a significant impact on officer strength, is how to deal with officers who are no longer capable of serving in the frontline. A freedom of information request in October 2008 found that forces lost more than a million days to long-term sick leave last year, at a cost of almost £90 million, an increase of more than 20% in the last five years.[360] We were also made aware that Derbyshire is experiencing difficulty in effecting medical retirements due to significant cost implications.[361] One divisional commander advocated a move to the model used in New Zealand, where it is possible to move a recuperating officer to a staff role. It is not currently possible to compel this to be done in the UK. Durham Constabulary is conducting a three-month experiment in which officers on recuperative duty, such as those recovering from minor injuries, will be assigned unmarked police cars to attend lower priority 'investigation by appointment calls', as a means of taking pressure off frontline officers and ensuring a better service for victims of such crimes.[362]

316. According to official figures, retention levels remain relatively high. However, forces are more concerned about their potential to retain experienced officers than they are about recruitment. We strongly regret the move a year ago not to give officers the full pay award recommended by the independent pay review. However, we anticipate that efforts to cut bureaucracy and restore officer discretion, should they be successful, will also have a beneficial impact on morale.

317. Retention is a particular problem for forces surrounding London, who have collectively lost over 1,000 officers to the Metropolitan Police over the past five years because of the latter's favourable terms and conditions. We recommend that the South-East Allowance be substantially increased to make it more feasible for officers living in the South-East to work outside London. In addition, we encourage the Metropolitan Police to agree a protocol with surrounding areas to seek to limit transfers.

318. Police force resources are being stretched by the number of officers on long-term sick leave who are not capable of serving on the frontline but who cannot be compelled to carry out back office functions under the terms of their contracts. The Home Office should commission research on the cost implications to forces of officers on long-term sick leave, with a view to move towards more flexible contracts that would allow for them to be transferred to a staff role.

Appointment of chief officers

319. In March 2008, the APA drew attention to what they described as a lack of "quality and quantity" in applications for chief officer posts. Fewer than three applicants applied for each chief constable post advertised between April 2006 and March 2007, with just under four applicants per post for assistant chief constable roles.[363]

320. Chief Constable Neyourd told us that the problem was not unique to the UK and in his opinion was explained primarily by two main factors: "There is a substantially greater pressure for public scrutiny … The second thing is that we had the merger debate and, frankly, that moved the goalposts in a way that a lot of people just stopped applying at that point".[364] The President of ACPO, Ken Jones, also blamed distortions to pay and conditions and parochial thinking among forces for the lack of applicants.[365] All chief officer are contracted on a fixed-term basis, for example.

321. To rectify the situation, the APA proposed that civilians without operational frontline experience should be able to enter directly into senior officer posts in the service to address the gap. This was strongly opposed by ACPO, the Police Superintendents' Association (PSA) and the Police Federation. The President of the PSA, Chief Superintendent Ian Johnston, stated:

    All officers who apply to the senior rank must demonstrate the ability to deal with operational matters. If you encourage direct entry you could arrive at a situation where the chief officers of the future are all strategists and have very little experience of dealing with critical incidents in real time and real life.[366]

When we met him during our visit to Monmouth, Chief Superintendent Johnston argued that there was sufficient talent within the service to meet demand, but questioned the appropriateness of the current assessment process, which in his view did not test operational competence, and a prevailing culture in the service which did not value experience or have respect for policing as a profession.[367]

322. In the opinion of some of our witnesses, a leadership with strong operational experience is the solution to combating the culture of 'risk aversion' that has grown up in the service, and which Sir Ronnie Flanagan concluded was a key driver of bureaucracy.[368] Chief Constable Neyroud argued:

    If you have a leadership that is empowered and confident and understands how to take risk decisions and is supported through its governance to make those decisions in an effective way, then you will get the beginnings of a change. One of the biggest pieces of work that we [the NPIA] have been doing in the first year is working with the service to produce the revised leadership strategy, and a big part of that is continuing both to improve the professional operational qualifications of colleagues—because it helps if you are a confident professional operational commander who is clearly supported in making well-informed judgments about the risk—and to put a substantial emphasis on the personal and professional ethics of officers.[369]

323. We asked the APA to clarify their position. Mr Jones told us:

    In respect of Home Office forces, I think the vast majority of our members would clearly see that a police professional is the only one that would have the credibility in the top job. I think the majority of police authorities would wish to see that remaining as a professional police officer. I do think it is a slightly different issue in terms of the top team. We heard at the last APA-ACPO conference that in 50% of forces at top team level human resources is not carried out by a human resources professional. In many cases we wish to see that professionalisation in the top team. [370]

324. The Government has since proposed that chief officer posts be advertised in co-ordinated rounds. This would be intended to provide police authorities with better choice and enable the Senior Appointments Panel, which advises Ministers on whether to confirm appointments following decisions by police authorities, to advise authorities and candidates about potential suitable matches on the basis of its work on the overall 'pool of talent'. In relation to appointments from outside the service:

    The Government's view is that it is very important that Chief Constable should have at least two year's chief officer experience in another force so that no force becomes too inward looking. However, very occasionally, there may be business reasons why an exception should be made. Subject to consultation, the Government therefore intends to retain the two year with exception provision in its current form, but will expect the SAP to set a high bar in considering any cases for an exception.[371]

325. We oppose direct entry to the police at chief officer level. In our view, operational experience is crucial to allow chief officers to fulfil their role effectively. We were particularly struck by evidence which underlined the value of strong leadership in combating risk aversion in the service, which relies on a solid operational background. We understand the argument put forward by the Association of Police Authorities that forces benefit from external professionals directing human resources, for example, but such roles should be separated from chief officer responsibilities. More needs to be done, however, to attract applicants to chief officer positions. We are not convinced that the Government's proposal for advertising posts in co-ordinated rounds, with a greater role for the Senior Appointments Panel in advising on matches, will be sufficient.

Police Community Support Officers

326. Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) were introduced by the Police Reform Act 2002. Initially, Chief Constables could choose which powers to designate them with from a list of potential powers given in the Act, but their primary purpose was to provide a visible police presence and undertake a problem-solving approach to community concerns. They do not have powers of arrest.

327. Much of the media coverage of PCSOs has been negative, giving an impression of PCSOs as 'second-rate' police officers or 'plastic policemen' and focusing on a few occasions where individual PCSOs have been seen as failing to fulfil their duties.[372] However, the East Midlands collaboration told us this does not correctly reflect public reaction to PCSOs: "PCSOs contribute significantly, interacting with the community and meeting public demand for visible policing. They receive high public acclaim and are responsible for positive public feedback, contributing to increased public satisfaction."[373]

328. A national evaluation of PCSOs, published in 2006, found that:

    CSOs were providing a service that was highly valued by the public, businesses and police officers. They were more of a visible and familiar presence than police officers, who had other demands on their time. The accessibility and approachability of CSOs meant that the public were more likely to pass on information to CSOs that they may have felt was too trivial for a police officer. The public appreciated the CSOs' role in engaging with young people and dealing with ASB [Anti Social Behaviour]. The diversity of CSOs, particularly in terms of ethnicity and age, has been one of the successes of the implementation of the role.  

However, the report also highlighted some aspects of their deployment that needed further consideration, including turnover, supervision and training.[374]

329. Twenty standard powers and duties for CSOs were introduced from 1 December 2007, including the power to issue fixed penalty notices for offences such as cycling on a footpath and littering; the power to require name and address in a number of circumstances; power to require persons drinking in designated places or who are underage to surrender alcohol; the power to seize drugs; the power to enter and search any premises for the purposes of saving life and limb or preventing serious damage to property; the power to remove abandoned vehicles; the power to enforce cordoned areas and to stop and search authorised areas under the Terrorism Act 2000; and the power to photograph persons away from a police station.

330. Some additional powers remain at the discretion of the chief constable, including power to issue penalty notices for further offences such as disorder, truancy and graffiti; power to detain a person whom a PCSO has reason to believe has committed a relevant offence; power to use reasonable force in relation to detained persons and to prevent a detained person making off; powers to search for alcohol and tobacco; and powers to disperse groups and remove persons under 16 to their place of residence.

331. The Police Federation has been very critical of PCSOs in the past. Their current Chairman, Paul McKeever, admitted that many Federation members now cite successful team-working with PCSOs, although the Federation "would still like to see fully warranted officers rather than Community Support Officers".[375] Their General Secretary, Ian Rennie, added that "PCSOs were introduced for really good reasons: a high-profile, public reassurance out in the communities—the eyes and ears of the police", but he warned against giving PCSOs powers to deal with confrontational situations: "I think it is important that that role is controlled and it does not stray into the use of police powers, otherwise all you are introducing is another tier of policing".[376]

332. Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison also argued against increasing PCSO powers:

    PCSOs do a different job to police officers. Police officers are traditionally a visible, accessible, familiar presence on the streets of the United Kingdom. What has happened in the recent years is that as they have been drawn in to deal with the greater amount of paperwork and the greater demands of the criminal justice system, et cetera, we put them out; they are out there for 10 minutes, they make an arrest and then they are in the station for the rest of their shift. PCSOs do something unique. They wear the uniform of the local constabulary and walk the beat of a dedicated area day-in and day-out, thus restoring that visibility and familiarity. PCSOs should not be given any more powers than are commensurate with that role. Giving them additional powers that take them off the street would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.[377]

333. The Mayor of London, on the other hand, supported a cautious extension:

    I do think it would be a good thing if PCSOs did have greater powers. Unfortunately, it is not possible to give them powers of arrest without effectively removing the distinction between them and the warranted officers. What we have done is give them greater powers to issue fixed penalty notices for minor offences of one kind or another—nuisance parking and that kind of thing. That has moved a small step in the direction I would think. There is a genuine difficulty in that the more you beef up the PCSOs, the more you run the risk of eroding the distinction between them and the warranted officer.[378]

334. The Police Federation noted that a lot of criminals are aware of the fact that PCSOs do not have full powers, and take advantage of this.[379] There have been reports of PCSOs been ordered to withdraw 'for their own safety' after confrontations, for example in Biggin Hill in Kent.[380] The Home Office will be evaluating the standard and discretionary list of powers by the end of 2008. In its recent Green Paper, the Government set out its view that the most valuable contribution to policing made by PCSOs is high visibility patrol, reassurance, community engagement and problem solving, while "within the police workforce only holders of the Office of Constable should have wide-ranging coercive powers applicable in the community at large".[381] The Home Secretary has since announced her view that all police community support officers should be given powers which would allow them to be able to detain suspects until a police officer arrives.[382]

335. In our report on Police Funding, we expressed concern that substantial numbers of PCSOs were being deployed inside police stations rather than on front-line duties, as the intended purpose of PCSOs was to provide a more visible public policing presence. We welcomed undertakings by the Government and the Police Federation to commission research into how PCSOs are used and recommended this research be commissioned as a matter of priority.[383] During this inquiry we were told that 75% of PCSO time was spent on the beat.[384] Sir Ronnie Flanagan was "confident" that PCSOs would not be drawn back into stations to cover bureaucracy.[385] However, a study by Kent Police found that one of the reasons PCSOs have had less of an impact than expected is that they spend two-thirds of their time filling in forms.[386]

336. Louise Casey drew attention to the lack of standardisation in PCSO roles and powers, as well as uniforms.[387] The Minister of State told us:

    We are already looking and taking seriously the notion of the standardisation of uniform nationally so that wherever you are in the country, you know what a PCSO looks like … and a lot of them did look very, very much like utterly indistinguishable police officers. Last November we looked at a first cut of standardisation of powers and put a whole host of powers on a statutory basis that all PCSOs up and down the country would have, but then added a whole load up to and including the potential for half hour detention before a police officer arrives and put that second swathe into the discretionary category at the discretion of the Chief Constable. Louise Casey's review said very clearly she thought that was confusing and rather like a warrant officer there should be a whole array of powers potentially at the disposal of a PCSO and then they would be tasked accordingly within that.[388]

337. We agree that the primary role of PCSOs should be to provide a visible presence, act as the "eyes and ears" of the police service and facilitate community engagement exercises undertaken to inform local priority-setting. However, we support a cautious extension of their powers so that all PCSOs are awarded powers that are currently at the discretion of Chief Constables. Moreover, the Home Office should consider piloting the provision of a warrant card to allow PCSOs to make arrests in exceptional circumstances, where lives are in danger. We understand that this will require more rigorous training and supervision. PCSOs should not undertake any more than the bare minimum of bureaucracy necessary to the role and should not be based in police stations.

338. The public needs to be made better aware about the role of PCSOs. We believe that, in addition to standard powers, PCSOs across the country should wear the same uniform, as the current disparity is confusing to the public. We hope that PCSOs are now accepted as full members of the policing family.



339. Women represent 24% of police officers, 44% of PCSOs and 60% of police staff.[389] Recruitment figures are encouraging, however: in Thames Valley Police women comprise 40% or 45% of the new intake.[390]

340. In an interview with Police Review, Assistant Chief Constable Suzette Davenport cited research for the British Association of Women in Policing, which shows that without affirmative action, it will take another 15 years for women to reach the Home Office target of 35% representation. Under the affirmative action scheme she proposed, every person recruited would have to achieve the stipulated required standard, employers would only take members from a pool of qualified applicants and the scheme would be time-limited.[391]

341. Women still fall behind in the senior ranks: 12% of senior police officers (Chief Inspector level and above) are women[392] and only five forces in England and Wales are led by female chief constables. This is partly to do with the length of time it takes to progress through the ranks, and so increased intakes in recent years will take a while to penetrate the highest echelons. More worryingly, resignations from female police officers are twice as high as from their male counterparts, with one woman in four citing domestic responsibilities.[393]

342. Cultural reasons may also prevent women from progressing, even though structural barriers may have been removed. Chief Constable Thornton told us:

    We need to challenge the idea of leadership as a white, male leader … Every time we do these exams, the sergeant and inspector exams, there are some people in the top 1% or 2%. I get a list of names, and I always invite them up for a cup of tea and a chat. It strikes me that I often have as many, if not more, women in that top group than men. When I ask them all the question, "What are you going to do now?" there is a tendency amongst some of our women to say, "Well I'm not going to get promoted straight away. I just need to do a bit of this or a bit of that, then I'll be ready" and a tendency for men to say they are going for it.[394]

She argued for more networks and mentoring schemes for female officers.

343. Although the service is a long way from meeting the Home Office target for women in the service, we are encouraged by the proportion of women entering the service and do not support the introduction of affirmative action. We are concerned at the significantly higher levels of resignation from female officers and urge forces to offer more flexible options to make it easier for women to remain in the service. There do not appear to be structural barriers to women progressing through the ranks, but we believe there should be more mentoring opportunities throughout the service to support women in applying for promotion.


344. Following the Macpherson Inquiry, the police service was set a target by the Home Office for black and minority ethnic (BME) officers to comprise 7% of the workforce nationally by 2009. Progress against the target is set out below.[395] There are 5,793 full-time equivalent BME officers as of 31 March 2008, representing 4.1% of the service. More encouragingly, 7% of staff are BME and 11 of PCSOs.[396]
























Police Service 33 3.13.5 3.84.3 4.65 5.34.6 7
Police Officers 22.2 2.42.6 2.93.3 3.53.7 3.94 7
Special Constables 2.93.2 3.53.6 4.45 66.6 85 7
Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) -- -- -- 1415.2 11.7*- -
Police Staff (inc. PCSOs) 54.7 4.85.3 5.56 6.56.9 7.26 7

The Minister of State told us:

    I think, nationally, in terms of targets for BME recruitment all our forces are there or thereabouts but I do think a lot more needs to be done … The targets are something around 8-9% depending on the force, and most are absolutely in line to at least come close to that, but I think the target is but the start, I would say, and all forces can and should do better.[397]

345. The former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, told us about the operational benefits of increasing diversity in the police:

    Bearing in mind what I remember of tensions between the police and ethnic minorities in London 25 years ago, it is never going to be perfect and it never can be because their job is to police, it is to control, it is to check, but it is infinitely better than it was. I never go to bed worrying if there is going to be a riot in London; whereas that was a constant threat 25 years ago.[398]

The current Mayor agreed, saying: "I want to increase our recruitment from black and ethnic minority communities because London has got to be policed by people who resemble the people of London and to whom the people of London respond and identify with".[399]

346. However, almost two-thirds of forces, including the Metropolitan, Greater Manchester, West Midlands and West Yorkshire, will miss their individual 2009 targets.[400] Moreover, Home Office statistics show that BME officers are resigning or are dismissed from the police service at a higher rate than their white colleagues. At some stages the rate is almost double: 6% of BME officers who have served less than six months have resigned or been dismissed, compared to 3% of white officers.[401]

347. A 2000 Home Office study of attitudes of people from minority ethnic communities towards a career in the police service found that respondents were discouraged by:

  • The thought of having to work in a racist environment, having to face prejudice from both colleagues and the general public on a daily basis;
  • The isolation of minority ethnic police officers in a predominantly white male culture leading to them having to deny their cultural identity in order to fit in;
  • The dangers of the job and having to deal with unpleasant situations coupled with a lack of confidence in (racist) colleagues assisting them in circumstances where their life or physical safety were at risk;
  • The anticipated reaction of friends or family who may be hostile; and that BME officers may be put under pressure to reveal sensitive and confidential information; and
  • A perception that BME officers have few or no promotion prospects.[402]

348. Commander Dizaei gave his views as to why people from BME communities are less likely to apply:

    There is a variety of reasons. Lack of progression is one, lack of role models is another, negative media images of our members within the National Black Police Association being disciplined and often discriminated against is another.[403]

349. The NPIA told us that it was working with the National Black Police Association to promote the High Potential Development scheme, which trains officers for leadership roles, and runs a four-day Positive Action Leadership Programme for officers or staff from under-represented groups in the service. ACPO has set up a BME Progression Group and in collaboration with the NPIA has set up a BME Senior Staff Network.[404]

350. However, Dr Ranjit Manghnani, a Development Advisor at the National Senior Careers Advisory Service of the National Policing Improvement Agency, noted that only 4.6% of the 388 people currently in the High Potential Development Scheme are BME. During the last assessments for senior positions, which took place a year before, 5% were BME and none of them achieved promotion.[405]

351. During our inquiry, there were a number of high profile allegations of racism during promotion processes, particularly at the Metropolitan Police. It is not for us to comment on the rights or wrongs of individual cases, but we are aware of figures obtained by Police Review in November 2007, showing that in the past two years, forces have received more than 700 complaints of discrimination from police officers and staff, and that when forces lose cases, the person responsible often goes unpunished.[406]

352. Commander Dizaei also gave us anecdotal evidence that Muslim applicants are vetted out without good reason, which, if true, is worrying: "from the basis of national security, I think we need more Muslim officers in the Police Service and the security services".[407] The Metropolitan Police Authority has also raised concerns that the lack of diversity in the police force has ramifications for counter-terrorism work.[408]

353. We support increased diversity in the police to ensure forces have access to the best people, regardless of their background, and can continue to improve relationships between the police and minority communities.

354. We are disappointed that police will not meet Home Office targets for BME recruitment in 2009. We do not support affirmative action, but concerted efforts must be made to make the service a more attractive prospect for BME candidates. In particular, Home Office resources should be invested in a targeted recruitment campaign. The level of PCSO recruitment from minority communities is encouraging, and we hope that some of these PCSOs will be encouraged to apply for officer positions where appropriate.

355. We are unable to assess the extent of racism in the police service. Amongst the police leadership who gave evidence to us there appeared to be a genuine belief in the importance of increasing recruitment from BME communities for policing. It is important that all claims of discrimination are investigated in a transparent manner, and, where guilt is established, those who are responsible are punished. We note that the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary have initiated inquiries into racism in the Metropolitan Police and the police service as a whole, respectively. We hope that the results of these inquiries and subsequent actions taken will encourage black and minority ethnic officers to join the police.

331   Home Office, Police Service Strength England and Wales, 31 March 2008, July 2008 Back

332   House of Commons Library research note 07/28, March 2001, p 3; Home Office, Police Service Strength England and Wales, 31 March 2007, July 2007 Back

333   Home Office, Police Service Strength England and Wales, 31 March 2008, July 2008; Home Office, Police Service Strength England and Wales, 31 March 2007, July 2007 Back

334   Home Office, Police Service Strength England and Wales, 31 March 2008, July 2008, p 5 Back

335   M. Aebi et al, European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics, 3rd edition, 2006, p 74 Back

336   Q 8 Back

337   Q 800 Back

338   Q 717  Back

339   Home Affairs Select Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2006-07, Police Funding, HC 553 Back

340   Ev 228 Back

341   Q 281; Ev 215 Back

342   Ev 208 Back

343   Q 616 Back

344   Peter Fahy, "Modern Man", Police Review, 27 June 2008, p 23 Back

345   HC Deb, 6 December 2007. Cols 94-95WS [Commons written ministerial statement] Back

346   "Police pay deal reached", Home Office press notice, 15 October 2008 Back

347   Q 634 Back

348   Ev 215 Back

349   Home Office, Police Service Strength England and Wales, 31 March 2008, July 2008, p 9 Back

350   Ev 228 Back

351   Q 287 Back

352   Q 276 Back

353   Metropolitan Police Careers website,  Back

354   Q 293 Back

355   Q 144 Back

356   Q 280 Back

357   Q 276 Back

358   Q 295 Back

359   "Met to share job details with neighbours", Police Review, 20 June 2008 Back

360   "Surge in police sickness costs taxpayer £90 million a year", The Times, 23 October 2008,  Back

361   Ev 229 Back

362   "Force's recovering officers will make public visits on new beat", Police Review, 22 August 2008, p 12 Back

363   "Officers display little interest in ACPO positions", Police Review, 28 March 2008, p 6 Back

364   Q 208  Back

365   "Call for chiefs to improve business skills", Police Review, 7 March 2008; PC 22 [ACPO], p 37 Back

366   "Outrage over plans to appoint civilians into top police ranks", Police Review, 7 March 2008 Back

367   Committee visit to Monmouth, 16 June 2008 Back

368   Q 25 Back

369   Q 192 Back

370   Q 709 Back

371   Home Office, From the Neighbourhood to the National: Policing our Communities Together, July 2008, pp 50-1, 53 Back

372   See, for example, "Should the Government scrap 'Blunkett's bobbies'?", Daily Telegraph, 19 April 2005, Two PCSOs came in for particularly heavy criticism for failing to attempt to save Jordan Lyon from drowning.  Back

373   Ev 225 Back

374   Home Office, A national evaluation of Community Support Officers, January 2006 Back

375   Qq 626-7 Back

376   Q 625 Back

377   Q 207 Back

378   Q 847 Back

379   Q 632 Back

380   "Mob of teenage drinkers forces three support officers to flee", Daily Telegraph, 10 October 2008, p 16 Back

381   Home Office, From the Neighbourhood to the National: Policing our Communities Together, July 2008, pp 16-17, 47 Back

382   "Community support officer to be given the power to detain", The Independent, 17 October 2008, p 4 Back

383   Home Affairs Select Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2006-07, Police Funding, HC 553 Back

384   Q 77 Back

385   Q 54 Back

386   "Good cop support or bad?", The Times (Public Agenda), 24 June 2008, p 3 Back

387   Louise Casey, Engaging Communities in the Fight Against Crime, Cabinet Office, June 2008, Executive Summary, p 11 Back

388   Q 817 Back

389   Home Office, Police Service Strength England and Wales, 31 March 2008, July 2008, pp 6, 13 Back

390   Q 281 Back

391   "Service 'lacks focus' on equal representation", Police Review, 16 November 2007, p 4 Back

392   Home Office, Police Service Strength England and Wales, 31 March 2008, July 2008, p 6 Back

393   "Female officers - a soft touch?", The Times (Public Agenda), 4 March 2008, p 4 Back

394   Qq 304-5 Back

395   Home Office, Eighth annual report of Race Employment Targets 2006/07, p 20  Back

396   Home Office, Police Service Strength England and Wales, 31 March 2008, July 2008, pp 6-7, 13 Back

397   Q 787 Back

398   Q 72 Back

399   Q 851 Back

400   "Police miss target for mirroring communities", The Guardian, 21 April 2008, p 5 Back

401   "Retention of ethnic minority officers 'a cause for concern'", Police Review, 21 December 2007, p 10  Back

402   Home Office, Attitudes of people from minority ethnic communities towards a career in the police service, November 2000 Back

403   Q 309 Back

404   Ev 301 Back

405   Q 313 Back

406   "Gagging order", Police Review, 30 November 2007, p 20 Back

407   Q 321 Back

408   Metropolitan Police Authority, Counter-Terrorism: The London Debate, February 2007 Back

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