The following question from Catherine West MP to Priti Patel which has been answered by Kit Malthouse contains a very deep flaw and demonstrates a great deal of ignorance. I have had the privilege to speak to a number of people in Sussex Police over the last decade and I am very aware of the challenges that they have faced in trying to increase the diversity of their workforce. I suspect that there will be a number of other Police Forces that are facing the same challenge and some will be working as hard and there may be others that need to work a bit harder. However the answer from Kit Malthouse is deeply concerning. His suggestion is that providing a once in a generation police uplift gives Police Forces the opportunity to recruit a more diverse range of people. Now of course the larger numbers of people that can be recruited, in one sense does enable numeric diversity. However that claim fails to offer any genuine support as called for from Catherine West. No doubt a meeting that took place 20 days earlier and a letter to PCCs and Chief Constables will have ticked a box for Malthouse. However if the Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables have only just discovered their lack of diversity, that would be deeply concerning. Indeed this claim from Malthouse also ignores the fact that recruiting large numbers of people can on occasions make it much harder for the process to work in a more focused way in terms of engaging with the communities when staff numbers are limited. Certainly Sussex Police has been working for the last generation, long before the Government chose to reverse its massive cuts to increase their diversity. However given the report publication in the last week from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) perhaps when Parliament returns Catherine West could ask the question again and call on Malthouse and Patel to offer something more than simply a recruitment requirement and a letter and instead ask the Police Forces and indeed other public agencies what they would find helpful in a more constructive way than simply a recruitment uplift that is “a once in a generation opportunity to increase the diversity” Anyway here is the question and answer that took place on 23rd March.
Catherine West: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what support she is making available to police forces in England to increase the recruitment of (a) women (b) BAME officers.
Kit Malthouse: The Government is clear that the police uplift is a once in a generation opportunity to increase the diversity of police officers in England and Wales. This includes increasing the proportion of female police officers and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic officers. The Home Secretary has been clear that the Uplift is a once in a generation opportunity to increase police diversity and chaired a detailed discussion with senior policing partners the National Policing Board on 3 March. Both the Home Secretary, and most recently the Minister for Policing and Crime have written to Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables urging all forces take the opportunity presented by the Uplift to increase police diversity. We are working hard to deliver the diverse police workforce that our communities need and through the Police Uplift Programme we are coordinating efforts between Government and policing to not only attract more diverse candidates into policing, but to ensure it’s a career where all recruits can thrive. Sharing best practice, engagement with staff associations, upskilling recruitment teams and enhanced data capture are just some of the efforts being made to support all forces to improve police diversity through Programme.