In May 2016, the Home Affairs committee reported that not a single police force in England and Wales had a level of diversity which represented the demographic of the community it served. Prime Minister Theresa May, who was Home Secretary at the time, claimed that forces must do more to correct this and increase BME recruitment.
According to the Commons committee’s report, 5.5% of police officers were from BME (black and minority ethnic) backgrounds. However, 14% of the total population comes from a BME background. The challenge now is the ensure that the police forces of England and Wales accurately reflect the demographics that they serve. This is vitally important for a number of reasons.
Why is Diversity Important?
Firstly, greater diversity within the police force can help ease tensions between ethnicities, and hopefully reduce any racism within the police force. Police forces across the Western world have been accused of racism on numerous occasions. If these allegations are true, then measures need to be taken to reduce racism. This could be done by recruiting more BME officers in order to make the entire service more tolerant of different ethnicities and cultural differences.
Likewise, a police force which is more representative of modern British society might help erase the image that the police is full of white men. In turn, this might improve relations between BME communities and their police forces.
In addition, employing from BME backgrounds shows that anyone with the skills and determination can become a police officer and serve UK citizens. The police force needs to demonstrate that you can be a police officer no matter what your ethnicity or background is – so long as you are committed to the law and serving people.
Finally, a police force can serve its citizens better if they are diverse as their communities are. A diverse police force, with a breadth of knowledge and experience with different cultures in Britain, would be better equipped to work with communities.
How Can the Police Force Increase BME Recruitment?
So, how can police forces increase BME recruitment?
Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the measures that are being taken to increase diversity figures in the police force.
Marketing and Recruitment Events
Firstly, marketing campaigns targeted at those from BME backgrounds are being deployed. It’s possible that there aren’t enough candidates from BME backgrounds applying for roles in the police force because there’s a perception that they won’t be welcomed by their fellow officers and staff. If this is the case, then the police force needs to use these campaigns as well as recruitment events to make sure that potential candidates from BME backgrounds are encouraged to apply. They need to show BME candidates that they will not be discriminated against. This will have to apply during the application process or during everyday duties as a police officer.
Police Buddies and Pre-Assessment Centres
Another method being employed by the police force to increase BME candidates is the introduction of a ‘police buddy’ – someone who would support them through the process once they’ve reached the assessment centre stage. This will be coupled with a pre-assessment centre for BME candidates, giving them further information about the process. Hopefully, this will improve BME recruitment by making sure that BME candidates have the guidance they need.
Eliminate Conscious and Unconscious Bias
Finally, one of the most important things that the police forces need to do in order to increase BME recruitment is to reduce both conscious and unconscious bias in the police force. Conscious bias is simpler to take on – ensure that the recruiters aren’t racist. However, unconscious bias can be harder to identify, since it is more institutionalised. Specialists in identifying unconscious bias would have to evaluate interviewers and the application process, in order to make sure that BME candidates aren’t being unconsciously discriminated against. This is so important because, no matter how many BME candidates are encourages to apply, diversity will still remain low if the recruitment processes are consciously or unconsciously biased against candidates from BME backgrounds.
There are still a lot of issues that need to be tackled to ensure that the demographic of the police force matches the demographic of the nation. However, we can see that there are some measures in place to increase BME recruitment in the police force.
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