To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent assessment they have made of the level of racism within British police forces and how this can best be addressed.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): My Lords, the Government take allegations of police racism very seriously. Any such allegations must be investigated thoroughly and, when and where required, perpetrators must be dealt with robustly. I have confidence in the ability of leaders of the police service to deal with this issue.
Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. What assurance can my noble friend give your Lordships’ House that police officers and staff are receiving appropriate training in community and race relations following on from recent events? Academic research has found that there is still a low level of diversity in senior and specialist ranks of the police forces. What more can be done to encourage police forces to recruit, retain and promote police officers from a diverse background?
Lord Henley: My Lords, taking the noble Lord’s first question first, he is right to talk about the importance of appropriate training, which all police forces are doing up and down the country. We will encourage them to continue doing so. As for his second question about low levels of diversity in the senior and specialist ranks of the police force, he is right to emphasise that point. It is important that we improve diversity at all levels and that police forces remain representative of the communities that they serve so that they can better understand their needs and ensure that the services they provide are appropriate. That is something that the leadership of police forces up and down the country is ensuring is done.