Police: Ethnic Minorities

Lord Sheikh asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    What steps they are taking to encourage recruitment of ethnic minorities to the police force.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My Lords, the Government have introduced initiatives, including targeted advertising, mentoring, familiarisation days and specific training to support candidates who may need assistance with language skills. In addition, the Green Paper on policing proposes the introduction of local targets to enable local representation within forces and will feature in the 2010 HMIC inspection. An assessment of the recruitment, retention and progression of minority ethnic staff has just been completed and is now with the Home Secretary.

Lord Sheikh: I thank the Minister for that reply. I have encouraged and will continue to encourage the recruitment of ethnic minorities to the police force. I therefore totally disagree with the recruitment boycott proposed by the Metropolitan Black Police Association. Following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, the Government set each police force a target for BME recruitment based on the make-up of the local population. Have those targets been achieved? If not, what measures are being taken to ensure that the police forces achieve their targets and how best can we monitor their progress?

Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his comment on the statement about not recruiting into the Metropolitan Police; that was an outrageous and damaging thing to say and I thank him for his support. I am afraid that we are not making the targets. The NPIA is being enlisted to assess the police forces that are not making them. It is clear that we must do better in this area. We have done a huge amount, but we are not doing as well as we should. However, we are absolutely intent, as are the police, to ensure that we get a correct representation of BMEs in our police forces. It is essential that we do that.