Police: Ethnic Minority Officers

Lord Sheikh asked Her Majesty’s Government:


Whether the arrangements for selecting officers from ethnic minorities for promotion in the police service are fair.


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My Lords, the policy co-ordination and monitoring of the national promotion systems for sergeant, inspector and senior ranks in the police service are the responsibility of the National Policing Improvement Agency. The NPIA uses recognised selection techniques that are designed and delivered to identify police officers with the right skills and abilities for promotion, while being fair to all candidates irrespective of their background.


Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. There are at present two high-profile cases where dissatisfaction is expressed by Muslim police officers. Disquiet is expressed also by their trade association. I have been told that 20 police forces were unable to send answers to questionnaires submitted by the association and a think tank. I remind your Lordships’ House of the figures for BME officers: there is one chief constable and there are eight members of ACPO out of 300 and 32 superintendents out of 1,600. Something is not quite right. Will the Government consider asking all the police forces to complete the questionnaire and undertake a review of diversity, promotion of BME officers and their appointment to specialist departments?


Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, the noble Lord asked a number of questions. We need to make it absolutely clear that we are committed to a police service—it is true of the military as well—that reflects the society that it defends. That is crucial. It may not have achieved that exact percentage, but we are doing a huge number of things to make it happen and work. The Association of Muslim Police used a think tank, Demos, to send out questionnaires. The police were concerned about writing back to a think tank with details of Muslim officers in their forces, which I understand. Our officials are meeting the Association of Muslim Police this week to discuss that issue, and I know that the Home Secretary is keen to meet the association next week to talk it through, because it is important. The police service needs to reflect society, but—my goodness—we have a good story to tell.