Occasional Tooting MP and would-be Mayor Sadiq Khan will – we know through the wonders of pre-briefing – tomorrow vow to tackle the under-representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in the Met.
According to the Independent, our brave but apparently memory-challenged warrior “will argue that affirmative action – moves to encourage potential ethnic minority recruits – is essential to make the force more representative of the streets it polices. If that fails, he will suggest going further and introducing quotas to alter the racial balance of the force.”
Khan tells the paper that if this doesn’t deliver “the meaningful change in the complexion of the Met that Londoners expect, then I will support a change in the law to allow statutory positive action.”
Under-representation of BAME Londoners is a real issue – in 2013 just 11% of the force’s officers came from BAME communities whereas 40% of Londoners do – but it’s one the Met is already alive to and one which Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe took steps to address long before Sadiq stopped pretending he had no interest in running for Mayor.
Most importantly Sir Bernard has introduced a new rule requiring all recruits to have lived in London for at least three of the previous six years. By ceasing to recruit from less diverse areas outside London the force expects the number of BAME applicants to increase.
It’s also taken steps to tackle “unconscious bias” in promotion panels by having senior managers with no prior contact with the applicants sit on the panels.
While members say the Met still has much work to do, in December the London Assembly’s police and crime committee said it had been “encouraged by some of the proactive work the Met is doing to support the progression of BAME and women officers”.
And just this week the Met announced a month-long pilot to recruit officers who speak second languages, a move which is also likely to increase applications from under-represented groups.
Khan seems to have briefed the Indy in an effort to look tough – why else does he make no mention of agreeing with the Commissioner on this issue? – but once again has left himself looking ill-informed and under-briefed.
After all his noise about Boris being a ‘red carpet’ and ‘part-time’ mayor Londoners might have expected the reluctant MP to bother doing some basic research but it seems trying to juggle two jobs at once is proving too much, leading to unforced and easily avoided errors.