Police diversity Contents


1.In a speech at the National Black Police Association conference in October 2015, the Home Secretary set out the ambition of having police force profiles which reflected those of the local community which they served:

Every officer in this country from the newest recruit to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police knows that in this country, we believe in policing by consent. And if we are to protect that principle, we must not only improve public trust and confidence in the police, but we must ensure that police forces properly reflect the communities they serve.

[…] if police forces do not truly represent the people they serve, if they are not made up of men and women of all backgrounds, if they do not properly reflect the communities where local officers police, then we cannot truly say the police are the public, and the public are the police.1

2.In trying to achieve this ambition in relation to ethnic diversity, the police service continues to face an enormous challenge. In 1999, only 2% of police officers in England and Wales were of a Black or Minority Ethnic (BME) background.2 At that time, the Office of National Statistics estimated that 6.5% of the population of Great Britain was from an ethnic minority, and 9.5% of the UK workforce.3 In the same year, the Macpherson report on the Stephen Lawrence case was published, which concluded that the Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist. Since then, achieving better BME representation has been a key target for the police service, and by 2015, it had increased to 5.5%.4

3.Although this is clearly a notable improvement, the scale of the ongoing task in increasing BME representation in police forces remains immense, particularly as the BME proportion in the general population is increasing. The UK population is currently 61 million, of which 14% is made up of minority communities (who made up 11.4% of the UK workforce in 20155); this proportion is expected to rise to 16% by 2024. This means that the police service would need to recruit 17,000 BME officers—or one in four of future recruits—to be representative of the population by then.6

4.In her October speech, the Home Secretary acknowledged the challenge which her ambition represented, given the current position. She noted that no police force in England and Wales currently has a BME representation which matches its local demographic; that four forces (Cheshire, North Yorkshire, Dyfed-Powys and Durham) do not employ any Black or Black British police officers at all; that only two Chief Officers self-identify as BME; and that 11 forces have no BME officers above the rank of Inspector. 7

Background to the inquiry

5.Predecessor Home Affairs Committees have examined issues relating to police diversity on a number of occasions. Most recently, a 2013 Report on Leadership and Standards in the Police made several recommendations on improving diversity.8 We decided to hold a one-off evidence session to examine progress on this highly significant issue since then.

6.We took oral evidence from former Chief Superintendent Dal Babu OBE; the National Black Police Association (NBPA); the National Association of Muslim Police; the Chief Constables of the West Midlands (Dave Thompson) and West Yorkshire (Dee Collins (temporary)) forces; and Robin Wilkinson, Director of People and Change of the Metropolitan Police. In a separate session, we also questioned the College of Policing and the Police Federation of England and Wales on police diversity, and gathered useful comparative information from the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences and the Royal College of Nursing. We are grateful to all the witnesses for contributing to our work.

1 Home Secretary’s speech to the National Black Police Association, 22 October 2015

2 Home Office, Policing Minister’s Assessment of Minority Ethnic Recruitment, Retention and Progression in the Police Service, A Paper for the Home Secretary, November 2008

3 ONS, The ethnic minority populations of Great Britain, Summer 1999 and DWP, Labour market status by ethnic group: data to September 2013, January 2014

4 National Police Chiefs’ Council, Submission to the Senior Salaries Review Body, January 2016

6 College of Policing press release, 30 October 2014, “Police recruitment of black or minority ethnic officers”

7 Home Secretary’s speech to the National Black Police Association, 22 October 2015

8 Third Report from the Home Affairs Committee, Session 2013-14, Leadership and Standards in the Police, HC 67-I

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

19 May 2016