NBPA response to the Home Affairs Select Committee report – Police diversity

Press Release: 21 May 2016

Home Affairs Select Committee ‘Police Diversity’ HC27.

The NBPA welcomes the recently published report into ‘Police Diversity’ by the Home Affairs Select Committee. The NBPA agrees with the Committee that,

‘Urgent and radical action is needed if the Home Secretary’s ambition, which we share, of all police forces reflecting the ethnic profile of their communities, is to be realised’.

The NBPA is delighted that the Committee has taken on board the written and oral evidence presented by NBPA President Janet Hills, around a lack of accountability and leadership on the important issue of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) recruitment, retention and progression in UK policing. Furthermore, the NBPA is encouraged that the Committee has recognised that it was wrong for the College of Policing not to consult with the NBPA on its BAME progression 2018 programme.

The NBPA welcomes the recommendations made by the Committee, which are as follows:

  1. Compulsory training on diversity issues for selection and promotion panel members (including specialist posts)
  2. Increased use of external assessors from a BAME background on selection panels
  3. Instituting coaching and mentoring of BAME officers
  4. Ensuring that units, which deal with complaints from officers on personnel matters, receive dedicated training on diversity issues
  5. BAME senior leaders’ forum, similar to the Association of Senior Women in Policing, should also be established, to provide support and guidance to BME officers seeking promotion
  6. The importance of cultural intelligence and abilities such as language skills relevant to the local policing area, should be assessed by each force and recognised in recruitment planning
  7. Appointment of a workforce diversity lead in each police force area
  8. Appointment of a Home Office specific lead for the police service (a ‘Police Diversity Champion’), with the ability to hold all police forces to account for achieving proper community representation throughout the ranks, including at the most senior levels and in specialist roles, by collating and publishing data, promulgating best practice, and providing practical advice. This appointment should be made by the end of the 2016-17 parliamentary session in May 2017

As a staff support network, we recognise, only too well that the changes outlined will not happen overnight and what is required is a sustained action plan that demonstrates consistency in employment and service delivery by all police forces.

Whilst we welcome the fact that the Committee has commented on the success and progress of women in the police, we are concerned that it has not sought to examine why the success of women in policing has not been replicated by BAME officers.

The NBPA believes that the Committee should have given greater clarity to police forces in what it means by diversity in the context of this report; we take it to mean race equality. However, diversity encompasses 9 protected characteristics. It would have been helpful for the Committee to say the words ‘race equality and inclusion’ and to reinforce Macpherson’s assertions around race equality.

The shift in language has been replaced by the more palatable and non-confrontational words like, diversity and unconscious bias.  These words may be more comfortable for Whitehall Mandarins and civil servants, but the reality is a very real experience for victims of racism, whether they are within our communities or public institutions like the police. Racism is a sad feature of society, like anti Semitism and Islamophobia. If we do not acknowledge it, how can we have an effective response to the problem?

The NBPA knows through experience that change in the area of policing is only won through the sustained pressure, actions and sacrifices of individuals and groups, be they the parents of Stephen Lawrence, victims of crime, or the bravery of individuals like Carol Howard and others who have trod this path before.

Janet Hills stated, “What is needed now is a clear plan of action, a strategy that looks at inclusion and difference across all 43 forces which should also include our policing families in Scotland and the British Transport Police. There also needs to be clarity about what forces are being asked to do.

The word Diversity incorporates 9 protected characteristics. However, the urgency outlined by the Committee requires that the focus, is on ‘race equality and inclusion. The Lawrence report highlighted ‘race’ issues over 17 years ago and although there has been some progress this clearly has not been enough. A clear strategy, consistent messaging and a Police Service that is held to account is what is needed to move forward.”

The NBPA, more than any organisation truly understands the issues at the heart of race and policing. We want to ensure that the Police Service, our service, is the best that it can be. A service, which our staff and the communities we serve, trust and have confidence in, through professional actions and professional decisions.  This is why we are committed, to working closely with the Home Office, the National Police Chiefs Council, the Police and Crime Commissioners and the College of Policing, to ensure that the recommendations made by the Committee and the subsequent response by the Home Office takes into account our knowledge and experience of trying to address and tackle racism in the police.

Note to Editors

Janet Hills, President of the National Black Police Association gave oral evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 12th April 2016. The NBPA submitted written evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee. This can be access through the following; http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/bame/publications/

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