Martin Delgado, London Daily Mail, September 22, 2007
Police recruits who fail anti-racism tests are not being barred from becoming serving officers.
Forces are bending their own rules to allow would-be constables to sign up, even if they flunk role-playing exercises designed to root out prejudice.
The situation was revealed after Hampshire Constabulary invited one applicant back for an interview and fitness assessment, despite not making the grade in the “respect for diversity” test.
Keith Jarrett, president of the National Black Police Association, said: “These criteria are set for a reason. The fact they are being ignored shows the duplicity of the police service.
“This lack of respect for a worthwhile exam means people who are unfit to be police officers may be allowed in.”
However, other observers have cast doubt on the exercise, which all would-be recruits must take as part of the so-called Structured Entrance Assessment for Recruiting Constables Holistically.
The Hampshire applicant—a 22-year-old chef who asked to be identified only as Chris—failed a role-playing exercise in which he had to pretend to be a shopping-centre boss dealing with racist graffiti about an employee, played by an actress.
Chris thought the priority should be to remove the graffiti as quickly as possible, but said the assessor expected him to spend more time on the racist aspect and its effect on staff and customers.
“You want to demonstrate you’re not a racist and that you have respect for diversity, which I do have,” Chris said.
“But it’s unnatural to assume race might be a problem because it raises an issue out of nothing. I found the test very frustrating.”
Chris scored 57 per cent—three per cent below the pass mark.
But the force told him that a “dramatic decline” in the number of candidates passing the test led them to review some cases—including his own—and that he could continue with his application.
However Chris has decided he no longer wants to join the police.
Hampshire police, which is up to strength, said it had given a second chance to 252 applicants who have narrowly failed the entrance tests since November, but could not say how many failed the anti-racism section.
Head of personnel Nicole Cornelius said she would consider offers to “competent candidates who passed at 50 per cent”.
Individual forces can set their own pass marks. The Metropolitan Police has a rigid 60 per cent threshold, but Greater Manchester Police said it would consider applicants who scored 55 per cent.