London’s Metropolitan Police says it now has more than 4,000 Black and Minority Ethnic officers serving in its ranks, a “significant milestone” in its quest to become more representative of London.
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has previously said boosting the force’s diversity is “essential” if it is earn and keep Londoners’ trust.
In recent years Scotland Yard and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime have introduced a number of initiatives aimed at attracting more BME recruits.“Although, we recognise there is more to do, we are very pleased with this progress.”
Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
As well as requiring applicants to have lived in the capital for three years, the Met has actively targeted recruitment drives towards chronically under-represented communities and sought to hire more officers who can speak at least one of London’s 14 most used, non-English languages.
Sir Bernard has also voiced support for changes to the law to allow him to introduce positive discrimination into the Met’s recruitment processes, although the force has warned that even with such a change it would be many years before it fully looked like London which is around 40% BME.
However new figures released today suggest the Commissioner’s efforts are already increasing the Met’s diversity.
According to the figures there were 4,033 BME officers serving in the Met as of August. That number represents almost 13% of the force’s 31,453 officers and is more than 25% up on 2013 when there were 3,163 BME officers – 11% of its total strength.
In addition, the figures show that last year 28 per cent of new recruits were from minority backgrounds, an increase from 16 per cent the previous year and, according to Scotland Yard, “a record in UK policing”.
Commenting on the numbers, Sir Bernard said: “Having over 4,000 BME officers policing the streets of London every day represents a significant milestone.
“More progress has been made in the last three years than at any point in recent decades. Although, we recognise there is more to do, we are very pleased with this progress.”
A spokesman for the Commissioner said he still believes a change in the law is needed to speed up and deepen efforts to boost diversity.
During last year’s contest to become Labour’s candidate for Mayor, Sadiq Khan appeared to suggest the force had failed to take real action to address the problem of under-representation, telling the Independent newspaper: “For far too long there have been warm words on this but little progress.”
On Friday Mr Khan, who will attend a passing out parade alongside Sir Bernard later this morning, struck a more supportive note and welcomed the Met’s efforts and success.
The Mayor has also asked Matrix Chambers to look at what legal options exist for him and the Commissioner to take further action.
Mr Khan said: “This is not about tokenism, but about building trust and respect between our vital police force and all Londoners. One of the best things about London is its astounding diversity, every day you hear new languages, smell new foods and talk to people from different cultures.
“But to continue to be one of the safest big cities in the world, and I want us to become even safer, we need our capital’s police force to reflect this, and to look like the communities it is charged with keeping safe.”
Despite the success in improving the force’s diversity, on Thursday the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned that officers “expect to be victimised and fear reprisals” if they complain about discrimination.
A hard hitting report published by the equality watchdog said there was “a general reluctance within the MPS to admit mistakes and apologise for them” and claimed “misplaced loyalty by MPS police officers and staff” acted as “barriers to fair treatment for police officers and staff who may have been victims of discrimination or harassment.”
However the force said it was working “to tackle the perceptions of victimisation” and had already addressed issues raised by an earlier ACAS report into discrimination within its ranks.