Robin Wilkinson, Director of People and Change at the Metropolitan Police Service responds to Home Secretary Theresa May’s calls for police forces to increase diversity in their ranks.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has done more than any force to improve representation from BME communities.
Through bold measures adopted by the Commissioner, nearly 30% of new recruits this year will be from BME backgrounds. That’s nearly double what has been achieved in the past.
On current projections, the MPS will reach 4,000 BME officers by summer 2016. This is an increase of 75 % over ten years and an increase of 24 % since 2012.
BME officers are represented in the MPS at every rank up to and including Assistant Commissioner, the equivalent of Chief Constable in most other forces, and we have achieved strong representation from BME officers in promotion processes we’ve run over the last two years.
We have also been at the forefront of championing innovative new approaches such as direct entry at superintendent level and our new “Police Now” graduate scheme.
We’re proud that over half of all BME police officers in the country work in the MPS.
However, despite this excellent progress, we can’t make changes quickly enough – with BME officers still only making up 12% of our workforce.
Moreover, with five years of austerity ahead, the reality is that the MPS, like other forces, will not have the money to recruit many new officers over this period.
If we can’t recruit, we can’t change the workforce to reflect the London communities that we serve.
We will continue to take bold steps to make as much progress as possible; however the Government needs to act too. Now is the time to make small but important changes to the Equalities Act.
We must make decisions on merit and we need the best people to be police officers. We call on the Government to make changes to the law so that the MPS can select all BME applicants who meet the entry standards.
The law, as it stands today, doesn’t allow us to select under-represented groups from this successful pool over white candidates. That needs to change – particularly during a time of low recruitment.
This is not about dumbing down – everyone needs to meet the high standards set by the College of Policing – it is about addressing the balance.
We welcome the Home Secretary’s continued commitment. We agree that forces need to do everything in their power to change the look and feel of the workforce to better reflect local communities.
However, it’s time for the Home Secretary to act too, to give us the tools we need to make an even bigger impact.