The Macpherson Report: Twenty-two years on Contents

4Recruitment and progression of BME officers and staff

All the good work that is being done to recruit then comes into a culture that is still not embracing diversity, race and difference, which then has people either dismissed or deciding to leave voluntarily, which again makes it disproportionate. We are constantly having to work and pedal really hard to keep what we’ve got. People are being recruited but they are not staying because they are not being progressed. It is all about that lens through which they see diversity, and race in particular.

Source: Detective Sergeant Janet Hills (Chair, Metropolitan Black Police Association159

122.Recommendation 64 of the Macpherson report required “That the Home Secretary and Police Authorities’ policing plans should include targets for recruitment, progression and retention of minority ethnic staff” against which progress reports were to be made annually, and to be published. This chapter considers the progress made over the last two decades in making police forces more ethnically diverse and more representative of the communities they serve.

Measuring progress: ethnic diversity of the police workforce

123.Government statistics at the end of March 2020 show that the number of BAME officers across England and Wales has continued to increase over the years. However as acknowledged by the Home Office, “the proportion of BAME officers remains considerably lower than the 14% of the population in England and Wales that identify as BAME”.160 Figure 3 shows that the proportion of BAME police officers in England and Wales increased from 4.8% in 2011 to 7.3% in 2020.161 During this time, the BAME population in England and Wales also has increased from 14% at the 2011 Census to 15.6% in 2019 (Annual Population Survey) which may suggest that part of the rise in the proportion of BME police officers (around 2.5%) may be representative of population growth (around 1.6 %) and not necessarily as a consequence of active recruitment policies by respective police forces.162

Figure 3: Proportion of police officers who are BAME, 31 March 2011 to 31 March 2020, England and Wales163

Note: the percentage of BAME police officers is based on Full Time Equivalent.

124.Home Office statistics at the end of March 2021 also noted that out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales, the Metropolitan Police Service had the highest proportion of BAME officers at 16%.164 This compares to 3% of BME officers in the early 2000s, following the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.165 While there has been clear progress, this proportion (16%) is still far from matching London’s BAME population of 40%.166 After the Metropolitan Police, it was reported that the next highest proportion of BAME officers were in the West Midlands (12%) and Bedfordshire Police (10%). The smallest proportions of BAME officers were in North Wales, Cumbria and Durham, at 0.8%, 1.0% and 1.6% respectively but in line with their local BME populations.167

125.The Metropolitan Police Commissioner told us in May 2021 that the Metropolitan Police “was making progress in achieving even greater levels of representation in our police officers”. She said the Metropolitan Police has “over 8,000 Black Asian and Minority ethnic officers and police staff” and that this is “over 18% of the total workforce circa 44,000”.168 However it should be noted this figure includes both police officers and staff and is not directly comparable with the proportion of BAME officers (16%) in the Metropolitan Police as recorded in Home Office statistics at the end of March 2021 (see previous paragraph).169

Figure 4: Police officer ethnicity compared to BAME force area population170

The Home Office wrote to the Committee in 2019 that police workforce data for the year ending 31 March 2018 showed that the “officer workforce” was more representative of both gender and ethnicity than ever before.171 Home Office statistics for 31 March 2020, released subsequently, show that the proportion of serving BAME police officers had marginally increased from 6.9% in 2019 to 7.3% in March 2020.172

Achievement against representation targets set in 1999

126.Responding to the Macpherson report in 1999 the then Home Secretary, Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, set 10-year targets for improving representation in individual forces based on their local minority ethnic population.173 At that time only 2% of officers in the police service overall were from a Black and minority ethnic background: the service overall was set a target for minority ethnic representation of 7% by 2009.174

127.The Runnymede Trust’s tenth anniversary review of progress against the Macpherson inquiry recommendations reported that in 2007 nearly half of the 43 forces (47%) had failed to meet interim targets for BME representation in their forces and concluded that “the target of 7% set for 2009 is unlikely to be met”.175 We can now see that it was only when the proportion of serving BAME police officers went up from 6.9% in 2019 to 7.3% in March 2020 that this target was finally met—eleven years late.176 Home Office data also show that at the end of March 2020, 30% of police forces had no Black British female police officers.177

128.Individual police forces also had targets set in 1999. However at 31 March 2021, six police forces in England and Wales had not met the ten-year recruitment targets they were set twenty-two years ago: the Metropolitan Police Service, West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Cleveland. Further details of progress against historic police officer recruitment targets appear in the Annex [see figure 15].

129.The use of targets in policing to improve BME recruitment, progression and retention ended in 2010.178 Instead, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are required to set strategic priorities in Police and Crime Plans against which Chief Constables are held to account for their achievements.179 The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APPC) told us that great strides were being made in many Offices of Police and Crime Commissioners (OPCCs) to “drive forward progress” in the use of positive action to increase ethnic diversity.180

130.The Metropolitan Police’s Association of Muslim Police (AMP) told the Committee that the police had talked for many years about the lack of BAME representation and how it should “engage with the BAME community”, but that progress remained “far too slow”. It argued that nothing would change until chief officers were “visibly” held to account and until sanctions were imposed for failing to improve BAME numbers. It stressed that there was a lack of clarity about who was responsible and accountable for this area of work:

Is it the Home Office, Mayor’s office, the College of Policing, the Crime Commissioners, the Police Federation, or individual Police Forces, and secondly, what sanctions will be applied should a force fail to deliver in the near future?181

131.House of Commons Library analysis of Home Office police workforce data conducted for the Committee suggests that, based on current trends (ceteris paribus)182 in the police workforce between 31 March 2017 and 31 December 2020, the date for parity in representation between Police Officers and the general BME population in England and Wales (14%) would be 2040, and in some forces much beyond that date.

New recruitment

Police officer uplift: BME recruitment targets

132.On 9 October 2019, the Government announced force by force recruitment targets for an ‘uplift’ in police officers, in a drive to increase officer numbers by 20,000 over 3 years.183 This recruitment drive was explicitly linked to the importance of increasing force diversity by the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, when she told the 2020 policing summit that the uplift created an “unprecedented opportunity … to create a truly representative police force that reflects the society we serve”. She concluded these comments by saying:

When I look round this room in years to come—as the 20,000 rise up the ranks—we all want to see visible change.184

133.In the year to March 2020, of the officers who identified their ethnicity, 10% of new joiners to the police service in England and Wales were from BAME backgrounds compared with 6% of those leaving the service.185

134.Police officer uplift data covering the period to the end of March 2021 revealed that 10.6% of new recruits in England and Wales were BAME.186

135.Police officer uplift data, which looks at new recruitment, indicates that 17 out of the 43 police forces are currently recruiting BME officers in proportion to or exceeding the proportion of BAME people in their local force population (see Figure 5). However only two out of the ten forces which have the highest levels of Black and minority ethnic populations (Nottinghamshire and Greater Manchester police) have achieved representative recruitment. In the Metropolitan Police, which serves an area with a 40% BAME population including 13% of the population who are Black, the percentage of BAME recruits in the year ending March 2021 was only 18% and Black recruits, 4%.187

Figure 5: New police officer recruits April 2020 to March 2021 compared to police force area population, % Black, Asian, Mixed, or Other188

136.In its Race Disparity in Focus report, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners showcased initiatives that PCCs are taking to tackle concerns raised by BME groups in their force areas.189 As part of this work, the report highlighted the “bold” recruitment targets that some forces are setting to improve their BME workforce representation.

137.The report noted that David Jamieson, former PCC for the West Midlands, had set a target for his force to recruit “1,000 BAME officers over the next three years”. Currently 10.9% of West Midlands Police officers are from BME backgrounds.190 Mr Jamieson planned to fill an expected 2,800 vacancies with “over a third of new recruits being BAME”. These vacancies will include an uplift of 1,200 officers, and 1,800 to replace those officers leaving the force.191 This is an ambitious target when compared against the West Midland’s current 30% BME force area population.192 So far, 17% of new recruits to West Midlands Police in the period April 2020 to March 2021 are from BAME backgrounds.193

138.Similarly Leicestershire’s former PCC, Lord Willy Bach, had set his force a 25% target for new recruits from “a diverse background”.194 Out of 3,800 officers and staff currently employed at Leicestershire Police, 7% are Asian and fewer than 1% are Black.195 Lord Bach’s 25% target compares with a figure of 21.6% BAME population for Leicestershire police force area.196 13% of new recruits to Leicestershire Police in the period April 2020-March 2021 were from BAME backgrounds.197

139.In May 2021 the Metropolitan Police Commissioner told us her force’s “aspiration is that by April 2022, 40% of all officer recruitment intakes are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds”, and from April 2021 “8% of all officer recruitment intakes” would be from Black backgrounds.198 The Metropolitan Police Service also told us they had succeeded in increasing BAME recruitment to 31.8% of their new intake in the first quarter of 2021–22.199

Barriers to recruitment

140.We received evidence that individuals from BME communities are deterred from joining the police by deeply entrenched and historic negative perceptions of police and policing.200 A NatCen report (2018) which was drawn to the Committee’s attention by the Criminal Justice Alliance noted that policing practices such as “disproportionate stop and search” impacted BME recruitment actions and that “there was a sense among BME communities that becoming a police officer was not worthwhile and families discouraged their children from joining”.201 We heard such reports directly, for example from Witness I, who told us that:

I feel it comes from generations, so my generation—I am [***]—it was getting stopped every day. It was nonstop stop and searches. It became normal to us. If your parents had asked about what happened today that would be a normal thing to say, “I got stopped and searched”.

So coming on to the next generation, … they will be taught from our generation that you are going to get stopped and searched because that is how we have developed a relationship with police. The next generation from us is going to see that, “They are stopping my brothers, or they are stopping my sisters,” or something like that. “They are people to be wary of.” That’s what is taught.202

141.Witness N, at the same roundtable, told us that “Being a child and coming into this, there is no way now that I am not going to fear for my children, when I have them, in terms of their relationship [with the police], because it is not just our generation or the generation under us. It is since the 1950s and before that, and nothing has been done to address the historical failures, so we grow into this over generations”.203 Jade Ella Scott, a social worker, told us that she:

wanted to join CID but I couldn’t, because I knew how I would be perceived and how I would be expected to police in BAME communities.204

142.PC Ahmed from Leicestershire Police told us that at the time he was considering a career in the police service there was “no one from the Somali community or anyone of that background who was in the police service”.205 He said the police service was not “seen as a profession to go into” within the Somali community and that before joining his view of the police service and everything he had ever heard about it was negative.206 He joined nonetheless and as a neighbourhood officer he now prioritises running workshops for the local community to inform them about how the police system works, to dispel misunderstandings such as the police being responsible for imprisoning individuals as well as arresting them.207

143.Government and Parliament have raised concerns about these barriers many times. In 2013, the then Home Affairs Committee reported that “Diversity has for too long been given lip service but not action in the police service”.208 In 2016 the Committee similarly concluded that progress had been “painfully slow”, and that the lack of senior BME representation in the police service affected “its leadership and culture and could be interpreted as suggesting that the police service has an unconscious bias”.209

144.The Home Office told us that the Government had helped to drive the improvement of police workforce diversity, for example through publication of its Race Disparity Audit in 2017.210 The Audit collates and publishes data on a broad range of outcomes experienced by people from minority ethnic communities, including in the area of crime and policing.211 The Home Office acknowledged that whilst there had been “significant progress across a range of measures relating to crime and policing, [the Audit also showed that] for many people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds their experiences and expectations fall well short of what is acceptable”.212 In June 2020 the former Home Secretary, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, commended the former Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, for initiating the Race Disparity Audit in 2016. He said it has a “crucial role to play” and must continue but warned against “shining a light on racial injustices” if no action is then taken to address them.213

BME representation in the wider police workforce

145.Home Office workforce data indicate that the representation of BAME workers in some other areas of the police workforce is higher than for police officers, for example, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and special constables.214 The Runnymede Trust review of progress against the Macpherson recommendations in 2009 found that Black and minority ethnic people were more attracted to PCSO roles because “generally, they are attracted by the community focus of the role, they regard it as a way of learning about the police service before making a decision about whether to become officers, and, for others, it represents a way of being protected from concerns about racism, which was seen as pervading the police service”.215 In the year to end March 2020 the most ethnically-diverse part of the police workforce in England and Wales was the Special Constabulary, where 12% identified as BAME.216 This is shown in the Home Office graph (Figure 6) below.217

Figure 6: Ethnic breakdown of the police workforce, as at 31 March 2020, England and Wales218

Progression and retention

146.The Home Secretary’s clear call for visible change is welcome, but the prospects for BME officers wishing to “rise up [through] the ranks” remain problematic.219

147.The Home Office noted in written evidence in 2019 that the Government has attempted to expand the pool and diversity of senior police officers by introducing direct entry, and by opening appointments to those with equivalent experience from overseas.220 Sergeant Munro told us that the direct entry scheme for senior officers had not achieved results in relation to diversity, and that the Metropolitan Police Service had dropped out of the scheme.221 While the direct entry programme at inspector and superintendent levels was meant to go some way towards addressing issues of diversity, promotion within the police service is almost exclusively dependent on individuals being promoted within the force.222

148.While BME representation in junior ranks is increasing, figures remain low, and this is even more pronounced at senior levels. Police workforce data indicate that only 5% of those promoted in 2019/20, from any grade to any other grade, were from BAME backgrounds, although this figure excluded the Metropolitan Police Service.223 Levels of BAME under-representation were most marked among the senior ranks: 4% of officers at or above the rank of chief inspector, and 2% of chief officers were from BAME backgrounds, compared with 8% of BAME police constables.224 Figure 7 below shows the proportion of BAME officers at each rank.

Figure 7 Proportion of police officers who are BAME, by rank, as at 31 March 2020, England and Wales225

149.It should not be assumed that increasing BME representation among PCSOs and Special Constables will lead in due course to improved representation among police leaders without further intervention. The NatCen research referred to at paragraph 140 above, which was commissioned through the Police Transformation Fund to provide an evidence base for the NPCC 2018 Diversity, Equality and Inclusion strategy, found that diversity initiatives in policing had “focused overwhelmingly on recruitment, at the expense of ensuring diversity in relation to retention and progression”.226 It reported that “organisational divisions within policing were identified as difficult to overcome” and noted that Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), which had a high intake of women and BME citizens, “often reported not feeling accepted within the police … The lack of perceived acceptance within the wider workforce could deter PCSOs from entering the police force as police constables”.227

150.BME representation in the police force is affected not only by concerns about promotion, but also by attrition—the rate at which individuals may, for different reasons, leave the police service. In a press briefing marking the twentieth anniversary of the Macpherson report in 2019 the Metropolitan Police Service said that minority ethnic officers are more likely than their White colleagues to leave the force in the first two years.228 Recruitment initiatives alone will be ineffective if recruits to the police service leave before fulfilling their potential.

Barriers to progress

Disproportionality in resignations, conduct hearings and dismissals

151.Home Office police workforce data showed that in 2019/20 6% of officers who left the 43 police forces in England and Wales were from a BAME background.229 The report noted that White officers had a “higher rate of normal retirements” reflecting the fact that BAME officers, because of historically low levels of recruitment, tend to be younger. But it also reported that BAME officers had a higher rate of voluntary resignations and dismissals.230

152.NatCen reported in 2018 that BME officers are “more likely to have been subject to misconduct hearings” which affected their opportunities for career progression231 while also being subjected to higher rates of dismissal than their White counterparts.

153.In 2019 the NPCC commissioned a study of disproportionality in police misconduct procedures, being concerned about the “growing statistical evidence of disproportionality of outcomes” on the grounds of race. We discuss police misconduct and discipline in chapter five but we note here that the report confirmed this disproportionality existed and that it occurred “service wide” rather than being confined to metropolitan forces with higher BAME populations. The review also concluded that unnecessary investigation could impact negatively upon an officer’s career progression, among other concerns, and that BAME officers were less likely to promote joining the service within their communities as a consequence of their experiences.232

Workplace culture

154.In addition to highlighting the ethnic disproportionality in misconduct hearings, NatCen identified further concerns about BME officers’ difficulty in accessing roles in specialist units. It found that under-represented groups perceived such units as “‘closed shops’ only available to individuals who meet the stereotypical profile”, while the lack of diversity in units dealing with counterterrorism, honour based violence and surveillance could negatively impact upon the ability of the police to fulfil their responsibilities.233

155.The Police Federation of England and Wales raised concern about the focus on recruiting “visible BME” individuals rather than looking at “culture, religion and belief”. It told us that the failure to recognise and value diverse “religious and cultural needs”, for example by not providing a suitable praying space for Muslim officers, isolated officers and made them more likely to leave the force.234 Detective Sergeant Janet Hills, the Chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association, told the Committee that all the good work on BME recruitment was subsequently undermined by “a culture that is still not embracing diversity, race and difference, which then has people either dismissed or deciding to leave voluntarily […]”.235 Recounting her personal experience as a Black female officer, she said that, “many a time”, she had been mistaken for the prisoner in the custody suite as she stood alongside the person she had arrested.236

156.Baroness Lawrence told us that the first time she met a Black officer was after her son’s death in the early nineties. She said that

At the time, the rumour—whether or not it was true—was that if a Black and a White officer were out together, the Black officer felt that he needed to be whatever his colleague was like. He never felt confident in himself to do the job that he was supposed to do. That is the question that I remember asking when I first saw a Black officer, and he did not deny that that was what was happening. At the time, they needed to have that level of working together, so they had to behave like the White officer.237

157.Detective Sergeant Janet Hills echoed this sentiment for BME officers today, telling us that, “It is difficult for officers to come to work with their authentic selves”.238

158.Jon Boutcher, the former NPCC lead for Race, and then Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, wrote to us that police forces’ responses to his request for information on their approach to race were very mixed.239 He also highlighted that, to his surprise, many younger officers were “unaware of Stephen Lawrence or of the legacy of his murder”.240

159.The Home Office told us that it was “confident” that it had “instituted reforms which provide a framework, and a good foundation, for local police forces to establish a truly representative community of police officers and staff”.241 However the former policing minister, Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP, told the Committee in 2019 that:

We are nowhere near where we need to be. I am sure you have the data and you can see that there has been progress over decades. It has been slow and it has been steady, but no police force actually represents the community it serves and some of them are very far off the pace.242

The Metropolitan Police Service

160.The Metropolitan Police Service told us separately that BME officers were “represented at every rank within the MPS, including at Chief Officer level” and that it had promoted 425 BME officers over the last four years across a range of ranks “from Sergeant to Chief Superintendent”.243 Metropolitan Police workforce data showed that, at 31 July 2020, of the 37.5 Commanders and above (FTE equivalent) in the Metropolitan Police Service three were recorded as BAME.244

161.Whilst acknowledging that the Metropolitan Police Service had made “huge improvement” in BME recruitment compared to other forces, the MPS Association of Muslim Police told the Committee that the majority of BME officers and staff remained at lower levels in the Metropolitan Police Service for the duration of their careers. They argued that this lack of BME representation in senior ranks conveyed the wrong message to the communities that they served: that BME candidates did not want to progress or were not sufficiently capable for promotion.245

162.In an interview following the Black Lives Matter protests Neil Basu, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, told Channel 4 News that it “cannot be right” that he is currently the UK’s highest ranking officer from an ethnic minority.246 He said the reason for the lack of BME representation in senior policing ranks was because the police had not done enough to “encourage, promote and help officers as they have gone through the ranks”.247 He also suggested that some BME officers still did not “feel safe talking out” about the problems they were facing or how they felt both within the Metropolitan Police and in society more generally, because of feeling that this might negatively impact their careers.248 However, he added that he would not still be working for the Metropolitan Police after twenty eight years if he did not think the organisation had changed “dramatically”.249

163.The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Dame Cressida Dick, told us in 2019 that “every promotion process is now very equal”. She added that “if there was any concern that one group or another was doing better in the promotion process that should be dispelled, because it is not”.250 In follow-up written evidence, the Metropolitan Police Service provided us with its latest data (2018/2019) on the proportion of BME officers and staff applying for and achieving promotion compared to their White counterparts. The Metropolitan Police Service did not provide us with data for promotion outcomes above chief superintendent level.251 The data showed that 15% of the 780 applications for promotion from Police Constable to Sergeant in 2018 were BAME (115 officers), and 12% of the 448 successful candidates were BAME (52 officers). The figures were much lower at senior levels. 4.4% of the 182 officers eligible for promotion in 2019 from Superintendent to Chief Superintendent were BAME (8 officers). All eight officers applied, so 24.2% of the 33 applications for promotion were BAME. Though they were eligible to apply, none of the eight successful candidates who became Chief Superintendent were BAME.252 Dame Cressida Dick told us in May 2021 that 15% of successful candidates in a recent Chief Inspector promotion process were BAME.253

164.In 2020 BME officers represented just 7% of the police service across England and Wales, far below the 14% of the population in England and Wales who are BME. It is extremely disappointing that twenty-two years after the publication of the Macpherson report the police service is still a very long way from being representative of the diverse communities it serves.

165.What is equally shocking is that so little changed in terms of BME recruitment and retention in the decade following our predecessors’ last inquiry on the Macpherson report. While there has been progress in BME recruitment by some forces in the last twelve months, several forces, including large forces like the Metropolitan Police Service and the West Midlands Police, had not at 31 March 2021 met the 10-year target for levels of BME representation set in 1999. Moreover, BME officers are over-represented in certain junior roles within the police service, for example as Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), and are under-represented in the most senior ranks, with no Black chief constables currently leading an English or Welsh police force. This problem is not restricted to policing and similar patterns of under-representation are evident across the public sector254 but in policing it is particularly important given the need for legitimacy.255 We welcome the efforts of those forces who have increased BME recruitment in the last twelve months, but it should not have taken this long to see those changes start to happen.

166.The Macpherson report was clear that police forces need to be representative of the communities they serve. Throughout our inquiry we have heard concerns about community confidence in the police, the use of certain police powers and wider racism in policing. These findings of racial disparities and the community concerns around them, in our view, are exacerbated by the lack of BME police officers and staff at all levels of police forces. The Peel principles that have underpinned British policing for nearly 200 years are based on the understanding that the police are the public and the public are the police.256 These principles apply to everyone: it cannot be the case that they apply to some communities and not others based on the colour of people’s skin. As long as police forces remain so unrepresentative of local communities these vital principles are being undermined.

Routes to improving ethnic diversity in the police service

167.Data shows wide variations across police forces in the pace at which they have increased BME recruitment over the last twenty-two years. Our analysis suggests that some forces, if they can sustain these improvements, will be able to reach the point where the proportion of BME officers reflects the proportion of BME residents in their local community in less than ten years. But other forces, including some of the biggest forces, on their current rate of progress would be unlikely to achieve that parity for over two decades. This section therefore looks at the measures that different police forces are taking as well as the possible further measures that should be introduced.257

The Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty

168.In 2010 the introduction of the Equality Act gave police forces a statutory responsibility to address inequalities in policing, including in employment and recruitment. The Equality Act merged previous anti-discrimination laws under a single legislative framework and introduced two key provisions: positive action in relation to recruitment and promotion, and the Public Sector Equality Duty (sometimes referred to as the ‘Equality Duty’ or PSED), which was informed by the findings of the Macpherson inquiry. The PSED is discussed further in chapter eight.

169.The PSED is contained in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. The public sector equality duty “is not a duty to achieve a result” but requires public authorities to consider appropriately what action should be taken to achieve the goals set out in section 149. Section 149(1) provides:

A public authority must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to:

a)eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act

b)advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it

c)foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.258

170.This means that organisations must also take “proactive steps to tackle discrimination, and not only to avoid discrimination or address it after it occurs”.259 It replaced the previous separate gender, race and disability duties.

171.The Supreme Court has said that the duty is one that “must be exercised in substance, with rigour and with an open mind”260 but that it is for the decision maker to decide how much weight to give to the duty with these considerations in mind. It is not a formulaic obligation–on each occasion it is necessary to consider the nature and extent of the equality implication and the likely effect of any proposed positive step.261 The courts have emphasised that the PSED is not a box-ticking exercise but about the substance of the decision: in fact, it is possible to comply with the PSED without consciously doing so if the public authority is sufficiently “conscientious” in making a decision.262

172.Prior to the introduction of the race equality duty, equality legislation sought to rectify cases of discrimination and harassment as opposed to working to prevent them happening in the first place.263 The Public Sector Equality Duty was designed, as a result of the Macpherson report, to shift the onus from individuals to organisations, placing for the first time an obligation on public authorities to promote equality proactively, not merely to avoid discrimination. Police forces therefore have a statutory responsibility to identify and appropriately address their low levels of recruitment from BME communities in the light of their responsibility to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good community relations.

Positive action

173.Positive action allows the employer to put specific, proportionate actions in place to improve the under-representation of specific groups protected by the Act. Written evidence submitted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR) provides detailed guidance on how positive action can be implemented. Options include “having visible role models and conducting outreach in schools and the community” and “targeted recruitment advertising”.264

174.Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, positive action is not the same as positive discrimination, which is currently unlawful in the UK except in very exceptional circumstances.265 Positive action allows the employer to use proportionate measures to reduce a disadvantage that specific groups protected by the Equality Act 2010 might experience, or to “increase their participation in a particular activity” if that participation is currently disproportionately low. Whilst there is not one single definition of positive discrimination the term is usually used to describe different approaches aimed at favouring the recruitment or promotion of a person solely on the basis of their protected characteristic.

175.Section 158 of the Equality Act 2010 permits general “positive action” in certain circumstances.266 Positive action may only be taken if the employer reasonably believes that “persons who share a protected characteristic” suffer a disadvantage or face different needs that are linked to that characteristic, or if their participation is disproportionately low.267 The employer must also reasonably believe that positive action is a proportionate means of achieving the statutory aims of enabling or encouraging persons who share the protected characteristic to overcome or minimise the disadvantage or participate in the specified activity.268 This could include, for example, a police force providing additional mentoring or support for BAME officers or applicants, or making a statement in a recruitment advertisement that the employer welcomes applications from the target group.269

176.Section 159 of the Equality Act allows an employer to take positive action in recruitment and promotion. It requires that an employer must reasonably think that “persons who share a protected characteristic suffer a disadvantage connected to the characteristic” or “participation in an activity by persons who share a protected characteristic is disproportionately low”.270 Employers may then treat the person with the protected characteristic more favourably but only when the candidates are otherwise equally qualified.271 This provision is referred to as the ‘tie-breaker’ provision.

Police force measures to increase BME recruitment and use of the Equality Act 2010

177.The Home Office cited several police forces whose work it felt had demonstrated what could be achieved through strong leadership, including through the “bold use of positive action”.272 These included Greater Manchester Police, which delivered an award-winning, targeted BME recruitment campaign that helped increase the proportion of its new recruits that were BME into line with the 15% of the population of the police force area.273

178.The former Policing Minister, Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP, chose to highlight Bedfordshire Police for the “amazing job” it had done to increase its workforce diversity between 2015 and 2019.274 In 2015 Bedfordshire Police “had the third lowest number of BAME officers (6%)” compared to its local BME population but by 2019 was “one of the most representative forces” with over 11% of BME officers though this remains below its BME population, estimated to have been 23% at the time.275 The Minister stressed to us that Bedfordshire Police’s success in increasing its workforce diversity through the use of positive action was “not rocket science” but down to a “change of attitude and mindset”—a determination to make change.276 This determination was expressed to the Committee by Jon Boutcher, former Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, who wrote:

This was achieved through dedicating a BAME Inspector and Sergeant who are passionate about these issues … and delivering a new approach to recruitment. The officers were given the support and authority of the entire chief officer team.

Through social media the force sought out those BAME applicants who had previously failed to be selected by other forces. We showed potential BAME candidates that we genuinely wanted them to be part of the force. We made it clear this is not a numbers game. It is about the force attracting the very best candidates and ensuring we better represent the diverse communities we serve. It is about legitimacy and public confidence and correcting the legacy of imbalance that exists regarding the diversity of policing.

Some questioned whether the campaign was attracting the quality candidates required to deliver 21st century policing. The answer is absolutely yes. A member of our community together with a member of the force interview our applicants. Those community members are interviewing for their local police officers, this adds to the legitimacy of the process.277

179.Inspector Mustafa Mohammed, President of the National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) emphasised that Bedfordshire’s success was down to a chief constable who openly made race a priority within a positive action programme, despite an internal “backlash from the other protected strands against giving race priority”.278 He added that there was a reluctance among “some chief constables” to prioritise race because of this backlash, which he believed rendered positive action provisions for BME individuals “ineffective”.279 The NAMP also believed that the Home Office was doing little directly to encourage chief constables to prioritise race.280

180.Dame Cressida Dick told us in 2019 that the MPS was determined to increase the ethnic diversity of its force and consequently it was “giving extra special positive action support to people from Black and minority ethnic communities who show interest in joining us”.281 In further written evidence in 2019, the MPS told us that it held regular “Meet the Met events” to enable underrepresented groups to find out more about career opportunities in the MPS.282 Among other initiatives, it also told us that it had a “dedicated positive action recruitment team” which had named caseworkers who supported BME individuals throughout the recruitment process and provided one to one guidance”.283

181.Dame Cressida Dick also told us her force was undertaking “significant work to transform” its recruitment processes through the development of a new selection assessment centre, and embedding its outreach work to encourage young Black Londoners to consider a career in policing.284 The Commissioner told us this work includes a “specific focus” on the College of Policing’s new online assessment centre which uses “specially trained community members” in addition to officers and staff to assess candidates.285 She indicated there had been a reduction in the disproportionate outcomes observed through this new approach.

182.The MOPAC Action Plan on Transparency, Accountability and Trust in Policing, announced in November 2020, re-introduced the London residency criteria for most new recruits to the Metropolitan Police Service. This provision, which had originally been introduced in 2014 but suspended in 2018, stipulates that candidates at entry level must, with some exemptions (for example, existing Special Constables and current and ex-military personnel) have lived or studied in one of the London boroughs for a minimum of three out of the last six years. When first introduced, this approach had supported the Metropolitan Police Service to obtain a significant increase in the number of minority ethnic recruits, and also an increase in female recruits, after one year. It was re-introduced in the context of a new target set for the MPS to ensure 40% of new recruits were drawn from BAME backgrounds in 2022.286

183.The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in 2021 noted the progress made by the MPS in 2014 and recommended that a similar ‘residency requirement’ be introduced across all police force areas. The Commission acknowledged that this new requirement would “likely drive more significant change” in areas with both larger populations and larger police workforces, and additionally recommended that the College of Police develop guidance on how residency requirements should be implemented.287 This recommendation by the CRED is in line with the MPS practice but we note that it would conflict with, and prevent measures similar to, those adopted by Bedfordshire Police to increase BME recruitment.

184.As previously mentioned, Nottinghamshire police force has managed to achieve representative recruitment.288 In 2012 Nottinghamshire’s then PCC, Paddy Tipping, set a long-term goal for the force to be more inclusive of the communities that it serves. Prior to the uplift programme Nottinghamshire Police had a BAME officer representational figure of 3.8%. As of December 2020, this figure stood at 7.0%, making it “the most representative force within the country, of any area with a significant BAME population of over 10%”.289

185.Nottinghamshire Police’s recruitment approaches included linking its recruitment function to the department which oversees its youth engagement programmes.290 The force took this approach to build on the success of its youth outreach team and to expand it into the adult sector, using staff with local legitimacy.291 The force said external role models including the independent advisory group (IAG), and local community and faith leaders, were critical to their successful recruitment because they could advocate and verify the approach of the organisation. Nottinghamshire Police also integrated members of its IAG into its recruitment process.292

186.Julia Mulligan, former PCC for North Yorkshire, told us she had one of the “most diverse chief officer teams in the country”.293 She attributed this recruitment success to her force’s use of a “strengths-based framework” instead of the College of Policing’s competency-based framework.294 She explained that a strengths-based process puts applicants in particular scenarios and asks them how they would deal with them in a practical way. She said it challenged applicants to think differently and to evidence their “strengths and values” as opposed to their “competencies” in their responses.295 This approach had impacted on the way that her force was supporting BAME officers and staff once they were in the service and it was “looking at the cultural changes” required to retain those individuals.296

187.We were told that national policing bodies and the Home Office were also working to increase BAME recruitment. The National Police Chiefs’ Council drew up a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Strategy in 2018, which outlined future NPCC initiatives “to improve minority ethnic representation in policing”. The Home Office told us it had “the unequivocal support of all chief constables”.297 In 2019 the NPCC wrote to the Committee that increasing the diversity of its workforce was one of five priorities in its ten year policing plan, Policing Vision 2025.298 The plan acknowledged that changes to the culture and leadership of the service were essential if policing was to “create a culture that values difference and diversity and which empowers individuals to maximise their contribution”299 and committed that policing would be a “profession with a more representative workforce” by 2025.300

188.The NPCC further told the Committee that under the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion strategy, practical toolkits would be available to all forces which would focus on “specific work streams including: leadership, culture, recruitment and attraction, retention and progression, wellbeing and fulfilment and exiting from the service with dignity”.301 We were however told that the NPCC diversity toolkits were optional, with the onus for their success resting on individual chief constables. The NBPA highlighted the lack of sanctions for police chiefs who failed to adhere to the toolkits, and called on the NPCC to develop “a rigorous framework for scrutiny and oversight on race issues”, including through “setting standards on Chief Officer leadership and development of their BAME Officers and Police Staff”.302

189.The Home Office also highlighted work undertaken by the Police Superintendents’ Association in partnership with the College of Policing to develop guidance on the use of positive action for forces, and the College of Policing’s own use of positive action in 2018 to increase the representation of women and BME officers on the Strategic Command Course which is the “gateway to chief officer ranks”.303

190.In this chapter we have referred to good practice reported by some police forces in relation to BME recruitment. Some examples of different approaches are summarised here.304

Examples of good practice by forces to improve ethnic diversity

  • Bedfordshire Police ran a social media recruitment campaign to find and reach out to BAME individuals who had applied to but not been selected by other forces. The campaign’s message was that the force wished to attract the very best candidates and to better represent the diverse communities it served. A member of the community joined the interview panel which added to the legitimacy of the process.
  • Greater Manchester Police increased the proportion of its new recruits that were BME into line with the the BME population of the police force area (15%). Targeted community recruitment events use local staff networks to signpost people to police recruitment vehicles and staff which are based in diverse communities to promote vacancies. Questions in the recruitment process about prior experience in volunteering were removed as this was identified as discriminating against people from certain communities. The force also provides advocacy and support to candidates which focuses on building confidence and practical skills.
  • The Metropolitan Police Service has used positive action measures to provide support to people from BME backgrounds who have indicated interest in joining the force. These include regular “Meet the Met” events and a dedicated positive action recruitment team with named caseworkers who have supported BME individuals and provided one to one guidance through the recruitment process.
  • North Yorkshire Police used a “strengths-based framework” instead of the College of Policing’s competency-based framework to increase ethnic diversity in its force.
  • Following the establishment of a long-term goal for BME representation set by its then PCC, Nottinghamshire Police offers its positive action candidates tailored support with the application process and holds positive action recruitment events to attract Special Constables, Police Officers, PCSOs and other police staff roles from within BME communities.

191.The EHRC told us that employers wishing to increase the diversity of their workforce should “routinely be considering using all the available forms of positive action in order to do so”, including:305

192.The National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) has argued that positive action initiatives in policing were “purely restricted to recruitment campaigns” and there was “little or no focus” on BME progression or development, which it described as “painfully slow”. Similarly Sergeant Munro, then President of the National Black Police Association, said that:

[…] when the work is done properly and positive action is applied, forces will progress—I can name you five or six forces in which that is happening. They are clearly doing well, but the fact that I can name five or six out of 40-odd is an indication that this is not being done as well as it should be”.306

Limitations of the law

193.Speaking in 2013 former Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable, and former advisor to this committee, Sir Peter Fahy called for the creation of a more diverse police force to be a legal requirement. He said at the time:

This is not about targets or political correctness… It is about operational need. Policing is unique, we need to be legitimate within the community because of the exercise of power. Often we are out there resolving disputes between communities and we need officers that understand different communities and different backgrounds.307

Tie breaker provision

194.Although the current legal framework in the Equality Act 2010 allows employers to go further to tackle inequalities in recruitment by using the tie-breaker provision, in practice this has proved difficult to use within policing.

195.While in favour of positive action the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, told us in September 2019 that the MPS had not yet used the tie breaker method of positive action as set out in the Equality Act: it would however consider its use on a case by case basis.308 The Metropolitan Police Commissioner said that it was “incredibly challenging to use at scale” as the legislation was designed to “compare two individuals”.309 It should be noted that police forces usually undertake large recruitment campaigns, particularly for the lower ranks, such as police constable.310 In May 2021 the Commissioner told us her force had since used the tie breaker provision and that it had “clearly helped” the MPS to increase the proportion of Black, Asian and minority ethnic officers “in the short term”.311 However she also argued that the provisions were narrow and were harder to use as part of larger scale recruitment processes. She therefore proposed temporary changes to section 159(4)(b) of the Equality Act 2010 should be considered urgently, to apply during the current higher volume uplift recruitment to reflect the “specific requirements within policing to address workforce under-representation”.312 We discuss the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s legislative proposals further in paragraph 208.

196.Challenges in understanding how to use the ‘tie breaker’ provision were highlighted in 2019 in an employment tribunal (Mr M Furlong v The Chief Constable of Cheshire Police) which found against Cheshire Police’s attempted use of the tie-breaker method of positive action. The force had identified 127 qualified candidates to become constables who it described as being of ‘equal merit’ under the relevant provisions of the Equality Act (section 159). It then sought to favour the candidates from under-represented groups.313 The tribunal found that Mr Furlong’s claim in respect of direct discrimination under Section 13 of the Equality Act 2010, on the grounds of sexual orientation, race and sex, was “well founded and succeeds”.314

Mr Furlong was a White, heterosexual, male applicant to the Cheshire police force. He passed the initial stages of the recruitment process: an application; then, a ‘sift’ stage comprising a competency interview and various written and interactive exercises; and, finally, an interview stage for all candidates who had successfully passed the ‘sift’. After the final interview, Cheshire Constabulary appointed all successful applicants with protected characteristics, before selecting from those who remained. Mr Furlong was not appointed after the final interview. He brought claims of direct discrimination, alleging that the police force had unlawfully treated candidates with protected characteristics more favourably than himself, when they were less qualified for selection. Cheshire Constabulary argued that its procedure was lawful under the positive action legislation.

The tribunal held that the 127 applicants who passed the final interview stage could not all be as qualified as each other, therefore discriminating on the grounds of protected characteristics at this stage did not fulfil the requirement that the candidates be otherwise equal. Further, the tribunal held that Cheshire Constabulary had acted unlawfully in applying a positive action approach because other ‘positive action’, such as recruitment events targeting underrepresented groups, was “bearing fruit”.315 Applying a positive action approach to a large number of recruits was therefore not proportionate, as required by s.159 of the Equality Act 2010.

Positive discrimination

197.Except in a very few specific circumstances, positive discrimination is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.316 Examples of positive discrimination include both requiring that new employees share a particular characteristic, and the use of quotas.

198.Exercising positive discrimination does not mean a person’s suitability or qualifications for a job are irrelevant. As Matthew Ryder QC told the Committee, appointment without reference to suitability and qualifications would lead to “perverse results of wholly unsuitable applicants being placed in important roles”.317

199.There are exceptions. An employer may be able to require that all candidates for a role have a particular characteristic, for example, applicants for a job as a counsellor in a women’s rape crisis centre may have to be female. This exception is tightly drawn: the ‘occupational requirement’ must be objectively justified and be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.318

200.The National Black Police Association referenced a Guardian article which asserted that, based on current rates of progression, it will be 2052 before representation in the police service matches the current level of the BME population in England and Wales.319 As a result of this lack of progress, the NBPA recommended that a form of positive discrimination should be considered for the recruitment of officers, “to replicate the way in which progress was achieved in the Police Service of Northern Ireland”.320

The Police Service of Northern Ireland

201.For ten years, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) operated an affirmative action policy, making 50% of vacancies available to candidates from a Catholic background and 50% from a non-Catholic background. The PSNI’s policy was provided for by primary legislation (the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000) which required the selection of a pool of applicants from whom the Chief Constable would provisionally appoint:

an even number of persons of whom—

(a) one half shall be persons who are treated as Roman Catholic; and

(b) one half shall be persons who are not so treated.321

202.The legislation also provided that such provisional appointments were to be confirmed if it was determined that each individual was physically and mentally fitted for appointment and not unsuitable for appointment; but the candidate would be replaced by another candidate meeting the criteria if these conditions were not met.322

203.The Government also obtained a derogation for this approach from the EU Race Directive on equal treatment in employment, reflecting what the EHRC described as “a very specific confluence of historical, religious and cultural events”.323324 Without this exemption, and the consequent domestic legislation,325 this approach would have been unlawful. By 2011, 30% of officers were from a Catholic background, compared with 8% in 2001.326

204.Some senior officers have tentatively voiced support for positive discrimination. In 2015, the then Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, Simon Byrne, reportedly said that “there is an argument to be made for positive discrimination”, adding that legislative change would “help me wrestle with the fact I’m trying to recruit from a workforce that is predominantly White”.327

205.In February 2019, in an interview marking the twentieth anniversary of the Macpherson report, Chief Constable Sara Thornton, the then Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, supported positive discrimination to address the lack of diversity in policing. She said: “That is unlawful at the moment. If you want to do something to give a shock to the system and say we can’t wait to 2052, I think we need to do something different”.328

206.In July 2020, John Robins, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police reportedly said “he would support positive discrimination if it meant more BAME people joining the force”.329 The Yorkshire Post reported Mr Robins’ concerns about the lack of BME officers within the force following a discussion with other police representatives about the Black Lives Matter movement and the “impact the global movement was having on policing”. Mr Robins expressed frustration about the “legal guidelines in recruiting candidates based on ethnicity”.330

207.The Metropolitan Police Service told us in written evidence in March 2019 that:

The MPS is aware of the view that the Government should change the law to introduce Positive Discrimination in police forces across England and Wales. However, the MPS is not pursuing this argument and instead we are focussing on making full use of the positive action provisions within the Equality Act, such as implementing outreach, mentoring and career development support schemes, including development workshops for BAME and female candidates to prepare them for assessment centres.331

208.Since 2019 the Metropolitan Police Service’s position has evolved on the extent to which current equality legislation can support the acceleration required to increase the proportion of BME officers in the police service.332 Dame Cressida Dick told us in May 2021 that changes needed to be made to enable “policing to create recruitment intakes that reflect the communities they serve” while maintaining standards.333 She said the MPS had “strongly argued” that consideration should be given urgently to temporarily lifting restrictions in section 159 (4)(b) of the Equality Act 2010 which require that any organisation which has a “policy of treating persons who share the protected characteristic more favourably in connection with recruitment or promotion than persons who do not share it” confines its use to individual cases.334 She argued that temporarily lifting this provision for the remaining period of the police uplift programme would in principle allow the police service to apply the same tie breaker positive action method in “volume recruitment” while, crucially, not reducing the standards required of police recruits.335 The Commissioner told us that she believed this temporary change to the Equality Act 2010 would result in an acceleration of applications from meritorious Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates.336

209.In November 2020, the Mayor of London’s Transparency, Accountability and Trust in Policing Action Plan stated that the Mayor would “lobby the Government to review the legislative framework for police officer recruitment to ensure it is fit for purpose and supports efforts to maximise the number of Black recruits”.337 At the National Policing Board meeting on 4 November 2020, the minutes state that AC Neil Basu “reflected that it may be worth looking at the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 around positive discrimination if recruitment is to increase diversity at pace”.338

210.The Home Office made clear its opposition to positive discrimination at the beginning of our inquiry, in written evidence in January 2019, stating:

We continue to be clear that […] calls for the use of positive discrimination in forces are unjustified. Forces are making real progress and to introduce such action would not only erode the credibility and confidence of individual officers but would undermine the public’s expectation that progression in the police is based on merit alone.339

211.The solicitor and lawyer to Baroness Lawrence, Imran Khan QC, and the National Black Police Association have, during this inquiry, advocated the use of positive discrimination as a way of addressing the persistent under-representation of Black and minority ethnic police officers. Imran Khan QC told us that positive discrimination “does not mean that an applicant is appointed regardless of their suitability for the job”. He argued that “positive discrimination is not to force people into positions for which they are unqualified but to encourage institutions to develop realistic criteria for the enterprise at hand and then to find a reasonably diverse mix of people qualified to be engaged in it”.340 The provisions of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 show precisely that candidates provisionally appointed through positive discrimination in that case were then required to meet suitability criteria before their appointments might be confirmed.341

212.Despite commitments made over many years police forces across the country have failed to do enough to increase BME recruitment, retention and promotion for decades. There has been a lack of focus, consistency and leadership in driving BME recruitment and promotion in the police service and it has not been taken seriously by either policing or political leaders for far too long.

213.Our analysis suggests that, on the current rate of progress, we will not have properly representative police forces in England and Wales for another twenty years.342 That would be four decades after the Macpherson report raised the seriousness of this issue and nearly half a century after the murder of Stephen Lawrence. This undermines legitimacy and trust and is completely inexcusable. Urgent action is needed.

214.The Government has committed to the recruitment of an additional 20,000 police officers by 31 March 2023. We agree with the Home Secretary that the uplift must be used to make immediate and significant progress in tackling the persistent under-representation of BME communities within the police force. We also welcome the work done by some forces over the last year to achieve an increase in the number of BME recruits. But we need a substantial and sustained increase from all forces. We are already into the second year of a three-year increased recruitment programme, so both police forces and the Home Office need to act fast to make sure that this vital opportunity to accelerate change is not missed.

215.Much stronger national action is needed. We recognise the various equality and diversity initiatives that have been undertaken by different policing bodies but in practice they have not delivered sufficient focus or progress on BME recruitment or tackling race inequality within forces. Strategies and guidance are also ineffectual without consistency in their implementation and delivery across all forces. The Home Office must therefore set out a new framework and strategy to increase BME recruitment and ensure that all forces commit to action, not just some.

216.We recommend that the Government agrees minimum targets for the recruitment of BME officers with each constabulary reflecting the respective composition of its local population, in order to achieve at least 14% of officers nationally by 2030. These should include immediate targets for this year’s new BME recruitment to reflect the proportion of BME residents in the local community as well as longer term targets for representation across the force. A national strategy should be drawn up by the National Policing Board drawing together the Home Secretary, the NPCC and other policing organisations, setting out a clear plan with a timeline, rigorous scrutiny on progress and remedial measures for failure to achieve these targets.

217.The Home Secretary must also set clear, measurable race equality objectives for individual police forces in relation to ethnic diversity, retention and progression, performance against which should be reported annually.

218.It is welcome that forces such as the West Midlands and Leicestershire have already made clear commitments both on immediate recruitment levels and the overall proportion of BME officers in the force over time. Other forces need to be more ambitious or the immediate opportunity to improve workforce diversity significantly, provided by the current uplift, will be lost.

219.It is particularly disappointing that the number of forces achieving representative recruitment is not higher since it is clear that forces which have made a focused effort to do so are able to achieve representative recruitment. The recent progress by forces in Greater Manchester and Nottinghamshire has shown that it is possible rapidly to increase the proportion of new BME recruits into line with the proportion of BME residents in the local population.343 Best practice from forces which are successful in achieving representative recruitment should be shared across police forces and Chief Constables held to account for their success or failure to achieve representative recruitment.

220.We recommend that the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners works with Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to enable force level comparison, and shared learning from different PCCs’ approaches to addressing race equality in recruitment to the police service.

221.All forces must do far more to use the positive action provisions of the Equality Act 2010 to develop targeted recruitment campaigns, mentoring and support. Some forces have used those provisions very effectively to increase BME recruitment significantly in a short space of time. But we have been troubled to find that until recently many forces have failed to use the full scope of provisions permitted under the positive action provisions of the Equality Act 2010 to improve recruitment and progression, despite falling far behind in achieving recruitment that is representative of their local communities.

222.The evidence from forces which do use a positive action approach demonstrates that forces should be able to achieve their targets using tried and tested positive action measures. Given the success these forces have had, we believe that chief officer teams should be required to use the positive action tools available to them and made accountable for their progress.

223.Given the enduring nature of this problem a clear framework is needed for holding Chief Constables and police forces to account and ensuring that there is follow up action where forces do not make sufficient progress.

224.Progress against local targets must be assessed regularly by the Home Secretary, acting through the National Policing Board. We welcome the commitment made by HMICFRS to include recruitment in their inspections on disproportionality.344 Representative recruitment must be treated as a key measure of legitimacy in HMICFRS’ regular inspections.

225.The Home Secretary has powers in legislation to require HMICFRS inspections where there are concerns about force operational performance on particular matters, and to require specified measures in the face of persistent failings.345 Given the importance of representative recruitment to restoring legitimacy and confidence as well as the lack of progress on this issue over decades since the Macpherson report, we recommend that the Home Secretary use these powers where forces continue to fail to make sufficient progress on recruitment. Where forces fall short of their target on new BME recruits after two years, HMICFRS should conduct detailed assessments and report to the Home Secretary and National Policing Board any forces which are still not demonstrating sufficient improvements, and the Home Secretary should use her powers to require the local policing body (the PCC/combined authority mayor) to take specified measures to address the concern.346

226.We believe that most forces should be able to make rapid progress with clear targets and using the positive action provisions in the Equality Act 2010 we have identified. We heard concerns raised by the Metropolitan Police that some of the Equality Act provisions cannot be applied in the same way to large volume recruitments of the kind that police forces undertake and that temporary changes to the legal framework are needed in order to make rapid progress during the current recruitment uplift. We note with interest Dame Cressida Dick’s proposal to make temporary changes to section 159 (4)(b) of the Equality Act 2010 for the remaining period of the police uplift programme. She argued that this would enable the police to accelerate the recruitment of meritorious Black and minority ethnic candidates by applying, in principle, the same tie breaker positive action method that is already legal in individual appointment decisions to large volume policing recruitment campaigns.347 We have not had the opportunity to take evidence on the workability or legal merits of Dame Cressida Dick’s proposition but we consider that a proposal on this issue from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is worthy of the most serious deliberation. We recommend the Home Office urgently investigates the feasibility of the Commissioner’s proposal and reports the outcome of this investigation to us at the first opportunity.

227.The significance of representation for the legitimacy of the police, and for the Peel principle that the police are the public and the public are the police, means that the Home Office must ensure that all forces can make the progress required to address historic underrepresentation, with all recruits meeting the standards required from our police officers in order to sustain local legitimacy. We agree with former Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy that the police service holds a unique position with a need for legitimacy in its use of power and that, where appropriate, additional measures could be justified to ensure that the police are broadly representative. The Home Office should also work with the Law Commission on measures which might be considered where forces can show that tried and tested positive action measures have not successfully addressed historic underrepresentation, and where such additional measures might be required in order to sustain local legitimacy. This should include examining the Metropolitan Police proposal or other approaches, for example to broaden the tie breaker provisions so they can be more easily applied to larger recruitment processes—not just to individual appointments—or other ways to allow forces to give priority to suitably qualified BME candidates as, for example, attempted by Cheshire Police in 2017. Furthermore whether the proposal by Dame Cressida Dick is deemed feasible or not, we recommend that the Home Office affirms to forces that it wishes to see more progress against these measures and that Chief Constables and their senior officer teams will be held accountable for their success or failure in achieving representative recruitment.

228.Without clear action we fear that in ten years’ time successors to our Committee will hear the very same arguments and evidence about recruitment and retention that have been rehearsed for over twenty years, and the effectiveness and legitimacy of the police service will be further undermined amongst those communities and interest groups the police have committed to work with and represent. The Home Secretary has described the police recruitment programme as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to create a police service that represents the communities it serves. That opportunity must not go to waste.

160 Home Office Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020 second edition, p27 [N.B. population data is taken from the 2011 Census, based on the whole population]. See: https://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011census/2011censusdata.

161 House of Commons library analysis from: Home Office, Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020: ethnicity open data tables, [Accessed: 10 December 2020]; Home Office Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020 second edition, p28.

162 Office for National Statistics, Annual Population Survey, 2019.

163 House of Commons library analysis from: Home Office, Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020: ethnicity open data tables, [Accessed: 10 December 2020]; Office for National Statistics, Annual Population Survey, 2019.

164 Home Office, Police officer uplift, quarterly update to 31 March 2021, 29 April 2021, Table U6.

165 The Metropolitan Police Service, Inclusion and Diversity Strategy 2017–2021, p3. London’s BAME population of 40% according to the 2011 Census.

166 Gov.uk, Ethnicity facts and figures, Police Workforce, Section 5 By ethnicity and area (police officers), 31 March 2020; Home Office Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020 second edition, p28.

167 Gov.uk, Ethnicity facts and figures, Police Workforce, Section 5 By ethnicity and area (police officers), 31 March 2020; Home Office, Police officer uplift, quarterly update to 31 March 2021, 29 April 2021, Table U6.

168 MAC0056 Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

170 Home Office, Police officer uplift, quarterly update to 31 March 2021, 29 April 2021, Table U6; Census 2011.

171 MPR0029 Home Office; this written evidence referred to Home Office police workforce data from 31 March 2018. Since receipt of this evidence, updated Home Office police workforce data has been published: for the year ending 31 March 2020.

172 Home Office, Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020 second edition, p28.

175 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report 10 years on: a review of the literature. Runnymede Trust 2009 pp61–63.

176 Home Office, Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020 second edition, p28.

177 MPR0004 National Black Police Association; Home Office, police workforce, England and Wales; 31 March 2020, p35: Home Office, table D2, Police officers, by police force area, ethnicity and sex, as at 31 March 2020.

178 The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 transferred responsibility for local policing governance to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) which we discuss in chapter nine.

179 MPR0034 the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

180 MPR0065 The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

181 MPR0016 Metropolitan Police Service, Association of Muslim Police.

182 ‘Ceteris paribus’ is a Latin phrase which means ‘all other things being equal’.

185 Home Office, Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020 second edition, pp 31–32.

186 Home Office, Police officer uplift, quarterly update to 31 March 2021, 29 April 2021, Table U6.

187 Home Office, Police officer uplift, quarterly update to 31 March 2021, 29 April 2021, Table U6; Gov.uk, Ethnicity and facts, police workforce, section 4, by ethnicity over time (police officers), 29 January 2021.

188 Home Office, Police officer uplift, quarterly update to 31 March 2021, 29 April 2021, Table U6; Gov.uk, Ethnicity and facts, police workforce, section 4, by ethnicity over time (police officers), 29 January 2021.

192 Police.uk, Workforce diversity in West Midlands Police [accessed 15 December 2020].

193 Home Office, Police officer uplift, quarterly update to 31 March 2021, 29 April 2021, Table U6.

196 Police.uk, Workforce diversity in Leicestershire Police [accessed 15 December 2020]; Gov.uk, ethnicity facts and figures, Police Workforce, section 5, by ethnicity and area, published 29 January 2021.

197 Home Office, Police officer uplift, quarterly update to 31 March 2021, 29 April 2021, Table U6.

198 MAC0056, Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

199 MAC0057, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

200 See also chapter two.

201 MPR0015 Criminal Justice Alliance; Enhancing diversity in policing, NatCen 2018.

208 House of Commons Home Affairs Committee Leadership and standards in the police Third Report of Session 2013–14 Volume I, p31, HC67-I, 26 June 2013.

209 House of Commons Home Affairs Committee Police diversity First Report of Session 2016–17, HC27, p9, 18 May 2016.

210 MPR0029 Metropolitan Police Service.

211 Ibid.

212 Ibid.

216 Home Office Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020 second edition, p33.

217 Home Office Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020 second edition, p33.

218 Home Office Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020 second edition, p33, figure 6.6, Ethnic breakdown of the police workforce, as at 31 March 2019, England and Wales.

219 Gov.uk, Home Secretary at the APCC and NPCC Partnership Summit, Home Secretary Priti Patel spoke at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and National Police Chiefs’ Council Partnership Summit 2020, 26 February 2020.

220 MPR0060, Home Office.

221 Q63; The direct entry scheme is a training and development programme, run by the College of Policing, which enables people to apply directly for police inspector and superintendent roles. See HMICFRS.

223 Home Office, Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020 second edition, p30: the Metropolitan Police Service was unable to provide the Home Office with the relevant data due to a new HR system.

224 Home Office, police workforce, England and Wales, second edition, pp. 6, 29, 31 March 2020.

225 Home Office, police workforce, England and Wales, second edition, p29, 31 March 2020, figure 6.2, Proportion of police officers who are BAME, by rank, as at 31 March 2020, England and Wales.

226 MPR0044, NPCC.

229 Home Office, Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020, second edition, p32.

230 Home Office, Police Workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2020, second edition, p32.

231 Ibid. MPR0015 Criminal Justice Alliance; in chapter five, we discuss ethnic disparity in police conduct procedures in more detail.

234 MPR0033 Police Federation of England and Wales.

235 Q45.

236 Q58.

237 Q24.

239 MPR0036 National Police Chiefs’ Council.

241 MPR0029 Home Office.

243 MPR0054 the Metropolitan Police Service. Data cited was for 31 December 2018.

244 Metropolitan Police workforce data report, July 2020, table 6. Note also that Commander level in the Metropolitan Police is equivalent to Assistant Chief Constable and above in police forces in England and Wales.

245 MPR0016 MPS Association of Muslim Police.

250 Q422. and Q434.

251 MPR0072 the Metropolitan Police Service.

252 MPR0072 the Metropolitan Police Service.

253 MAC0056, written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service

254 Race Disparity Audit, 10 October 2017

256 Definition of policing by consent, gov.uk [Accessed 11 June 2021].

257 House of Commons Library analysis based on Home Office Police Workforce Open Data Tables, and the 2011 Census, as checked against Home Office Ethnicity Facts and Figures.

259 MPR0025, Equality and Human Rights Commission

260 Hotak & Ors v London Borough of Southwark & Anor, para 75 [2015] UKSC 30.

261 Hotak & Ors v London Borough of Southwark & Anor, para 79 [2015] UKSC 30.

262 Hotak & Ors v London Borough of Southwark & Anor, para 79 [2015] UKSC 30.

263 Equality and Human Rights Commission, Public Sector Equality Duty, [accessed 22 April 2021].

264 MPR0048 The Equality and Human Rights Commission.

265 MPR0048 The Equality and Human Rights Commission.

269 MPR0048 EHRC.

272 MPR0029 Home Office.

273 MPR0029 Home Office.

275 MPR0036 National Police Chiefs’ Council

277 MPR0036, NPCC.

278 Q46.

279 MPR0039 National Association of Muslim Police.

280 MPR0072 Metropolitan Police Service.

282 MPR0072 Metropolitan Police Service.

283 MPR0072 Metropolitan Police Service

284 MAC0056 Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

285 MAC0056 Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

286 Action plan: transparency, accountability and trust in policing, MOPAC; Met re-imposes London residency requirement for recruits 13 November 2020.

288 See paragraphs 132–139

289 Evidence submitted to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, 4 December 2020: Verma, S, (2020),Promise and Progress, Nottinghamshire Police Force.

290 Evidence submitted to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, 4 December 2020: Verma, S, (2020),Promise and Progress, Nottinghamshire Police Force.

291 Evidence submitted to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, 4 December 2020: Verma, S, (2020),Promise and Progress, Nottinghamshire Police Force.

292 Evidence submitted to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, 4 December 2020: Verma, S, (2020),Promise and Progress, Nottinghamshire Police Force.

294 Q9; APC0002, supplementary evidence Julia Mulligan PCC for North Yorkshire; College of Policing, Introducing a new competency and values framework for policing, [last accessed 17 July 2020].

297 MPR0029 Home Office.

298 MPR0044 NPCC.

300 MPR0060 Home Office.

301 MPR0036 NPCC.

302 MPR0004, NBPA

303 MPR0029 Home Office.

304 See paragraph 177; ‘Recruiting for diversity’, Written by Chief Inspector Tony Alogba, Greater Manchester Police; paragraph 180; paragraph 186; Equality and Diversity Information, Nottinghamshire Police, 2018 and Talent Support scheme

305 MPR0048 The Equality and Human Rights Commission.

306 Q44.

308 MPR0072, Metropolitan Police.

309 MPR0072 Metropolitan Police Service.

310 College of Policing, Police SEARCH Recruit Assessment Centre, TVP Data request –Assessment Centre performance data 2013 – 2017. The assessment centre for the selection of Police Constables is known as the Police SEARCH® Recruit Assessment Centre.

311 MAC0056, Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

312 MAC0056, Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

314 Mr M Furlong v The Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, Case No. 2405577/18, Reserved Judgment of the Employment Tribunal on 13 February 2019.

315 To note, the tribunal held that, where general positive action was working, that more positive action could be disproportionate as it was not necessary to achieve the stated aims.

317 MPR0083 Matthew Ryder QC.

319 MPR0004 National Black Police Association citing It’s nowhere near good enough: broken promises on police diversity, the Guardian, 5 December 2018.

320 MPR0004, National Black Police Association

321 s46 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.

322 s46 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.

331 MPR0054 the Metropolitan Police Service.

332 MPR0072 Metropolitan Police Service (July 2019); MAC0056, Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

333 MAC0056, Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

335 MAC0056, Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service; a manifesto commitment of the current Government was a pledge to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers in England and Wales by 31 March 2023.

336 MAC0056, Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

338 Home Office, National Policing Board, Minutes, 4 November 2020.

339 MPR0029 Home Office.

340 MPR0078 Imran Khan QC.

341 s46 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.

342 House of Commons Library analysis based on Home Office Police Workforce Open Data Tables, and the 2011 Census, as checked against Home Office Ethnicity Facts and Figures.

343 See paras 135, 177, 184–185

345 Under section 54 (2B) of the Police Act 1996, the Home Secretary may, at any time, require the inspectors of constabulary to carry out an inspection on “particular matters or to particular activities of that force”; HMICFRS, Inspection of the performance of the Home Office police forces, October 2019, p33, paragraph 105: during the “Engage” stage of the HMICFRS monitoring process, the force is expected to work with the support of HMICFRS, the College of Policing, NPCC, APCC and the Home Office to address the concern.

346 House of Commons briefing paper, Policing in the UK 3 June 2021, p8: “Under sections 40, 40A and 40B of the Police Act 1996 (as amended) the Home Secretary can issue directions requiring local policing bodies take specified measures to address their own failure (or potential) to execute their functions efficiently and effectively or the failure (potential failure) of their force to execute its functions efficiently and effectively. These directions can be used be used to require PCCs submit an “action plan” to the Home Secretary detailing how they will address their force’s failings”.




Published: 30 July 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement