BAME people in Milton Keynes' region 'still underrepresented in police force'

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in the Thames Valley continue to be underrepresented by their police force despite the recruitment of hundreds of new officers.
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The National Black Police Association says police forces need to show more ambition in recruiting officers from BAME backgrounds, while the National Police Chiefs Council accepts "much more needs to be done".

Home Office data shows Thames Valley Police recruited 264 new officers in the nine months to the end of 2020.

But of the 263 new recruits who declared their ethnicity, 27 were BAME.

BAME people in the Thames Valley still underrepresented in police forceBAME people in the Thames Valley still underrepresented in police force
BAME people in the Thames Valley still underrepresented in police force

It leaves Thames Valley Police with 234 BAME police officers overall, accounting for 5.2% of the 4,470 officers whose ethnicity was recorded.

That is despite BAME people accounting for 15.7% of the population served by Thames Valley Police, according to mid-2016 population estimates – the latest to have an ethnicity breakdown.

It reflected the picture across England and Wales as a whole, where 7.5% of officers are BAME despite people from BAME backgrounds making up 14.5% of the population.

However, that was a rise from 7.3% in March last year, and 4.7% in March 2010.

In response to these statistics a spokesperson from Thames Valley Police said: "“Thames Valley Police recognises the need to better reflect the communities we serve.

“We are committed to recruiting officers and staff from BAME groups as it is essential in maintaining public trust with all of our communities. We are aware that barriers may exist to those from ethnic minorities from joining the police service, which is also reflected nationally.

“We want to do all we can to remove these barriers. Our Positive Action & Engagement Team have been working to engage and recruit candidates from Black, Asian and other Ethnic Minorities to join Thames Valley Police.

“Their work has been successful, in the last round of police officer recruitment, 24% of the total applicants came from a BAME background. This is just a small step and as a Force we will continue to engage with people from a diverse range of backgrounds to recruit them, so we are equipped to better understand the issues facing our communities and work to solve them.”

Last year a study by the Police Foundation thinktank found more people from Asian and mixed ethnic backgrounds had increased, but black representation in police forces had “barely increased”.

And the NBPA president, Andy George, said the association remains concerned over the makeup of police forces in relation to the communities they serve.

He said: "The recent uplift in police recruitment has shown some improvements in this area but we would like to see a more ambitious drive to increase the number of officers and staff members from BAME backgrounds.

"We are unconvinced the current recruitment uplift will be used as the once in a lifetime opportunity it is, to reset the workforce composition."

The NPCC said forces across the country have set action plans to ensure recruitment attracts people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

A spokesperson added: "We are actively engaging with communities who are currently underrepresented in policing to understand the barriers and address any misconceptions."

Meanwhile, policing minister Kit Malthouse said police forces are "more diverse than ever before".

He added: "The recruitment of 20,000 additional police officers presents a once in a generation opportunity to ensure they are even more reflective of the communities they serve.

“National diversity recruitment data is being collected and monitored for the first time ever, with appropriate support in place to help forces attract people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

"Where appropriate, we will take direct action to address poor performance in this area.”

The Government's police recruitment campaign was launched in October 2019, with each force handed a target for the first phase ending in March this year.

Thames Valley Police recruited 433 officers between November 2019 and December last year, the figures show.

Allowing for leavers, the overall uplift over the period was 258, meaning the force has exceeded its first phase target of 183 as of the end of 2020.

Across England and Wales, forces have a collective goal of recruiting 6,000 extra police officers by March 31.

By the end of December, 6,620 officers had been added through the hiring scheme.