UK Home Secretary to Call for More Diverse Police Forces in England and Wales


Police in England and Wales must do more to increase ethnic diversity, Theresa May will say in a speech later.

The home secretary will say the record of forces on employing black officers is “simply not good enough”.

Home Office figures show four forces – Cheshire, Durham, Dyfed-Powys and North Yorkshire – do not have a single black African-Caribbean officer.

Mrs May will also contest claims that reforming stop-and-search rules has led to a rise in knife crime.

She will tell the National Black Police Association conference that none of the 43 forces in England and Wales is racially representative of the communities they serve.

None of the forces has an an ethnic minority chief constable, figures show.

Mrs May will also challenge the number of female officers, who currently make up 28% of the police workforce. Women make up 51% of the population.

‘Policing by consent’

“This comes on top of existing statistics showing that there are only two BME [black and minority ethnic] chief officers in England and Wales, and 11 forces have no BME officers above chief inspector rank,” Mrs May will say.

“This is simply not good enough.”

She will also say: “Increasing diversity in our police forces is not an optional extra. It goes right to the heart of this country’s historic principle of policing by consent.

“We must ensure that the public have trust and confidence in the police, and that the police reflect the communities they serve.”

Rob Beckley, from the College of Policing, said the organisation was trying to improve the “recruitment, development, progression and retention of BME officers and staff”.

“This will be a long and sustained journey,” he said.

“There are no quick fixes and while attracting more BME candidates to the police service is vital, development of existing officers and staff is also key.”

‘Knee-jerk reaction’

The speech in Birmingham will also criticise claims that a rise in knife crime has been caused by a reduction in police stop and searches, calling it a “knee-jerk reaction on the back of a false link”.

Changes were made after figures showed only about 10% of more than a million searches had led to an arrest, with black people six times more likely to be stopped than white people.

Her remarks on stop and search come after Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said he believed a rise in knife crime in London could be connected to large reductions in stops and searches from his officers.

In June, he told the BBC: “If we are getting to the stage where people think they can carry knives with impunity, that can’t be good for anyone.”