Margaret Ferrier – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Home Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Margaret Ferrier on 2015-10-21.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to increase the number of (a) women and (b) people from ethnic minorities in the police forces.

Mike Penning

It is vital that the police reflect the communities they serve and the Government is determined to improve BME representation in all 43 forces in England and Wales.

Decisions on when and how to recruit individuals are for the chief officer of a police force. It is important that they use equalities legislation, including positive action provisions, to make better progress in terms of recruitment of under-represented groups.

The Home Secretary announced on 22 October the publication of data showing the gender and ethnicity of police officers by force area. This represents an important step in making it easier for the public to access the data they need to see how representative their force is compared to the local population. It is clear that the current representation of women and officers from minority ethnic backgrounds in the officer ranks is not good enough and the Home Secretary has challenged forces to do more.

The Government’s reforms have already made improvements, for example we set up the College of Policing which has embarked on a major programme of work, BME Progression 2018, looking at recruitment, retention and progression of black and minority ethnic officers, including the development of an evidence base of successful approaches used by forces.

We have worked with the College to develop its Reverse Mentoring programme, which seeks to give police leaders an insight into the direct lived experience of officers from under-represented groups. I am grateful to the five Chief Constables who have signed their force up to the programme. We also worked with the College to produce its Positive Action Practical Advice, which advises forces on the use of lawful positive action to support the recruitment, retention and progression of officers from under-represented groups.

Under this Government innovative schemes such as Direct Entry and Police Now are increasing the number of BME recruits to the police, showing that you can achieve better representation whilst attracting the best and the brightest into policing.

Of the nine direct entry superintendents who began their superintendent training on November 2014 four (44%) are women and two (22%) are from an ethnic minority background. This is significantly more representative than the current make up of the superintendent rank which is comprised of 17% women and 4% ethnic minority.

Police Now, implemented in the Metropolitan Police, appointed 69 people to start their training, up from an anticipated 50 owing to the high calibre of applicants. Of these, 43% are women and 9% are from a BME background, compared to the national BME proportion of 5.5%.