Scotland Yard says making the Metropolitan Police more representative of London’s diverse communities will take years even if Parliament changes the law to allow positive discrimination.
In 2013 just 11% of the force’s officers came from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, compared to 40% of Londoners.
Part of the imbalance is down to the fact that almost half of all Met officers live outside London and are recruited from areas which are less diverse than the capital.
Increasing officer diversity is seen as a key need to improving public confidence in the police.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime has already set out a number of steps to increase the number of BAME officers, including recruiting more officers from London.
A London Assembly report published on Thursday acknowledges MOPAC and the Met have made some progress in addressing the imbalance but says more needs to be done.
AMs want the force to be better at targeting BAME candidates and increase options for flexible working to help make policing more attractive to women.
Joanne McCartney AM, Chair of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, said: “All Londoners would benefit from a police service that thinks, looks and acts like our city.
“When the Met is more representative of the city it polices, we will have a force to be reckoned with. A police force that understands and meets the needs of Londoners.”
Commenting on the report, a Met spokesperson accepted woman and BAME communities are under-represented but said “nationally the Met is way ahead of similar sized forces in England and Wales.”
The spokesman said “radical thinking” was required to allow the imbalance to be addressed, including changing employment law, as was done in Northern Ireland, “to allow the MPS to recruit people from minorities in equal numbers to those from the white majority for a set period of time in order to create a “critical mass” of BME officers within the service would we believe then help encourage even more to join.”
However even if were implemented, “it would still take time to recruit sufficient BME officers to make the MPS representative and it will take more time for those officers to gain promotion so that the necessary change is seen at all levels of the service.”