Police diversity Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

BME representation in police forces

1.In 2013, our predecessor Committee concluded that for too long lip-service had been paid to diversity in the police service, but this was unmatched by action. It also believed that progress since the 1999 Macpherson report on the Metropolitan Police and the Stephen Lawrence case was disappointing; and that it was shameful that not a single Chief Constable was Black or Asian. Three years have passed since the publication of that report, and progress has not been sufficient, but all of those conclusions are even more valid today and the need to address this problem has even greater urgency. Whilst there has been a steady increase in the overall proportion of officers and staff who are of a BME background, progress is painfully slow; there is wide variation between forces; and increased numbers of BME police officers remain overwhelmingly in the most junior ranks. Even allowing for appropriate career progression, the number of BME officers above the rank of Inspector is very disappointing. We find this unacceptable. We believe that it is time for concerted action, prioritised across all forces, policing bodies and Government. (Paragraph 12)

2.We have observed the progress on gender diversity within the police service and we are pleased to note that there is now a higher proportion of female representation in the most senior policing posts. We very much welcome the fact that two of the most influential posts in policing, the heads of the National Crime Agency and the National Police Chiefs’ Council, are held by women, as well five of the Chief Constables in the 43 forces in England and Wales being women. (Paragraph 13)

3.The number of BME officers in police forces is increasing to some extent but this is largely limited to junior roles. BME representation at junior levels is only one indicator of progress and is not a full reflection of the diversity of an organisation. The lack of senior BME representation in the police service affects its leadership and culture and could be interpreted as suggesting that the police service has an unconscious bias. People of a BME background wishing to develop their careers within the police service lack role models; encounter barriers when trying to access the training necessary for their career development; and face selection panels which are almost always lacking in diversity (although no evidence was presented to us to suggest that the panels are a barrier in themselves). We acknowledge that this is an issue affecting many other organisations and public services in the UK, and that promotion to the highest ranks starting from what was a low proportion of BME officers takes long-term commitment. However, that is not an excuse for the lack of progress in the police service. (Paragraph 22)

4.The College of Policing, led by its Chief Executive, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, and many individual police forces, have considerable expertise in designing and implementing interventions to support the career development of BME officers, but it is clear from the evidence we received that these interventions are not yet having sufficient impact. The effective implementation of schemes to support the career development of BME officers appears to be subject to the discretion and commitment of individual forces and Chief Officers and is therefore too inconsistent and poorly monitored to be effective. The College of Policing should provide further, stronger leadership on this. (Paragraph 23)

5.A number of practical steps could be taken now to improve retention and progression of BME police officers, including to the most senior ranks. These include: compulsory training on diversity issues for selection and promotion panel members, including those for specialist posts; increased use of external assessors from a BME background on selection panels; instituting coaching and mentoring for BME officers; and ensuring that units which deal with complaints from officers on personnel matters receive dedicated training on diversity issues. These four steps towards greater diversity should then be added as benchmarks for the performance measures against which every police force is assessed. A BME senior leaders’ forum, similar to the Association of Senior Women in Policing, should also be established, to provide support and guidance to BME officers seeking promotion. (Paragraph 24)

Change initiatives

6.Three years ago, our predecessor Committee recommended that each force assess the potential benefits of introducing skill-based selection criteria, such as the Metropolitan Police’s second-language recruitment scheme; and that mentoring schemes to support the career development of BME officers should be rolled out across the country. Some forces, particularly the Metropolitan Police, have invested considerable effort in understanding and tackling these issues. However, we have seen no evidence that our predecessors’ recommendations have been systematically evaluated or introduced more widely, or that less diverse police forces have made any effort to learn from the experience of more innovative ones. (Paragraph 40)

7.We warmly welcome the commitment to increasing diversity shown by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, and his desire to achieve a more representative and diverse police force. Positive action measures taken by individual police forces, including the Metropolitan Police, have led to some successes, and we are particularly encouraged to hear that the Met uses positive action to support internal promotion processes at all ranks. We reiterate our predecessors’ recommendation that the importance of cultural intelligence, and abilities such as language skills relevant to the local policing area, should be assessed by each force and recognised in recruitment planning. (Paragraph 41)

8.We fully support the Home Secretary’s ambition of a police service which is representative of the communities it serves. We believe that the police service should “look like the people it serves”. Radical action will be required if this is to be achieved. The scale of the challenge for the police service in England and Wales is similar to that faced in 1999 by the police service in Northern Ireland. Even with positive discrimination in the form of the introduction of 50:50 recruitment there, it took 10 years to achieve a police service which was more representative of the community. (Paragraph 42)

9.The Home Secretary has argued that it would be too difficult and too lengthy a process to seek a derogation from the EU to allow positive discrimination in BME recruitment to the police service, and that other options should therefore be exhausted first. However, 17 years on from the publication of the Macpherson report, BME representation remains poor and in senior police roles it is at a pitiful level; and many police forces seem to have no better grasp of how to increase diversity than they did decades ago. Most of the other options to increase recruitment and progression of BME police officers have already been tried, with only limited success. It may therefore be necessary for the police service to take further positive action, if the other measures which we propose in this report do not bear fruit sufficiently quickly. (Paragraph 43)

10.We accept that there is a division of responsibility between the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), which coordinates national operational policing, and the College of Policing which is the professional body for policing and which leads on developing national approaches to a wide range of issues including human resources. However, the NPCC acknowledges that it is also “a forum for employers”. It is therefore very disappointing that Chief Constables, as employers represented collectively in the NPCC, appear to be doing too little to promote BME representation, and diversity more broadly, in their police forces. Each police force should therefore appoint a workforce diversity lead. This person should usually be at Deputy Chief Constable or equivalent rank. (Paragraph 47)

11.We have assessed the College of Policing’s role in this report and will be publishing a separate, broader report on the work of the College very shortly. We heard oral evidence from the National Black Police Association that it had not been consulted on the College’s BME Progression 2018 programme. It was wrong of the College not to ensure that the NBPA was fully consulted on such an important policy document. (Paragraph 48)

12.There is considerable variation in the achievements and the ambitions of police forces in England and Wales in increasing BME representation, and there is no mechanism for holding the worst performers to account. It is apparent to us that the current structures provide no clear leadership for increasing diversity, and allow this lack of accountability to persist. Increased BME representation in police forces will not be achieved unless these issues are addressed. (Paragraph 49)

13.Police and Crime Commissioners are the statutory mechanism for holding police chiefs to account on diversity and should take a much more active role on BME representation in their forces during their second terms in office. The first PCC from a BME background was elected in May 2016. This lack of diversity amongst PCCs has undermined the message that diversity is a basic requirement in the police service. (Paragraph 50)

14.Urgent and radical action is needed if the Home Secretary’s ambition, which we share, of all police forces reflecting the ethnic profile of their communities, is to be realised. There is no visible, “go-to” person who has clear responsibility for equality and diversity within the police service as a whole and across the 43 police forces. We were surprised that, in an oral evidence session on border security, the Director General of Border Force informed us that he was the Home Office’s Diversity Champion. This choice is an interesting one, given his other onerous duties. We are unclear about what this role entails and the obscurity of its remit does not inspire confidence. Therefore, in addition to our recommendation that each police force appoint a workforce diversity lead, we also recommend that the Home Office appoint a specific diversity lead for the police service (a “Police Diversity Champion”), with the authority to hold all police forces to account for achieving proper community representation throughout the ranks, including at the most senior levels, and in specialist roles, by collecting and publishing data, promulgating best practice, and providing practical advice. This appointment should be made by the end of the 2016-17 parliamentary session in May 2017. (Paragraph 51)

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

19 May 2016