Police forces around the country are facing a lack of top officers from ethnic minorities over the coming years, campaigners have warned.
A senior Asian officer in the Metropolitan Police slammed the force for being ‘stubbornly white’ and urged it to step up its attempts to promote more ethnic minority officers.
The National Black Police Association is now leading calls for the police to hire senior officers from other walks of life in order to boost the number of non-white figures at the top of the force.
Of the 43 individual forces in England and Wales, not one currently has an ethnic minority chief constable, while just five have a woman as their head.
And the current intake of the training course used to prepare officers for promotion to top jobs implies that change might not be on its way any time soon.
Students doing the Strategic Command Course this year are overwhelmingly white, according to The Times.
The issue of increasing police diversity was highlighted last week by Dal Babu, the Harrow Borough Commander for the Met who successfully sued the force in 2003 for discriminating against him because he was a Muslim.
Speaking at a conference run by the Home Affairs Select Committee, he said that the police nationwide was still ‘stubbornly white’ even after a long-running recruitment campaign.
One proposed solution could be so-called ‘direct entry’, which would allow senior officers to be recruited from outside the police in the UK and abroad.
Currently, all officers must enter the force at the rank of constable, making it almost impossible to hire anyone other than career policemen for senior posts.
The National Black Police Association supports the scheme being used to hire brilliant ethnic minority candidates from all walks of life.
‘We support the idea as long as it is targeted towards improving diversity at the top of policing,’ the association’s president Charles Crichlow told The Times.
He added: ‘The current leadership of the service does not see this as a priority. They put it in the “too hard to do” box.
‘We support the direct entry proposal, but it is not a silver bullet. It has to be targeted at trying to improve diversity at the top of policing.’
However, direct entry is likely to be fiercely opposed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), which has so far resisted suggestions that police forces’ hiring policies should be liberalised.
A spokesman for Acpo pointed out that any efforts to increase police diversity were being hampered by the ongoing hiring freeze in the civil service, making it impossible to launch a large-scale recruitment drive.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘This government wants to attract the best and brightest candidates into policing, people who have the right skills and expertise to forge a force fit for the 21st century.
‘By opening up the police to a wider pool of talent, forces will be able to bring in people with diverse backgrounds and new perspectives.’