POLICE officers are being overlooked for promotions becauuse they don’t fit in, a former assistant commissioner who brought a racial discrimination claim against the Met, has claimed.
Tarique Ghaffur, who was Britain’s most senior Asian police officer, made the comment following new figures which revealed that ethnic minorities in the force make up just one per cent of the most senior roles.
In total, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME) officers made up 5.5 per cent of all staff across the 43 forces in England and Wales and the British Transport Police.
The statistics released by the Home Office last week showed there were 6,979 BME workers in March this year, which was an increase of 265 or 3.9 per cent a year earlier.
Only one per cent of minorities, one man and one woman, hold the top role of chief officers which includes assistant chief constables, and they are both based with the Metropolitan Police in London.
There are no BME chief constables in any of the 43 police forces in England and Wales. Ghaffur, who agreed to an out-ofcourt settlement in his claim seven years ago, told EE: “It’s a closed shop; people are not being selected on competence, they are being selected on whether they fit in.
“It’s a fundamental difference to what happens in the US where there is positive action. I’m afraid there is a lot of talk around this, but very little action. We want people to be selected for competence. The business case for that as I found out, is that when you are in that [senior] position, you can contribute positively to the policies that affect the communities you serve.
“The communities feel you are a significant role model and that gives them confidence in the police.”
The most prominent roles for black and Asian officers are currently constables – the lowest ranking appointment with 4,410 males serving in the position, and 1,530 females.
Ghaffur, who announced an unprecedented race claim against Sir Ian Blair – the former Metropolitan police commander, accusing him of being racist, served in the police force for 34 years.
“There’s a lot of willingness to change, but we are not seeing it in actual numbers,” Ghaffur added.
“I would like to see independent selection panels, positive action through quotas, and significant mentoring support given to the ones who are coming through the ranks.
“My problem was there was difficulty with people dealing with my difference. I had built up my own skills and experience but other people had problems dealing with my individuality.”
Of the 43 forces, the Met Police had the largest proportion of ethnic minority officers with 11.7 per cent followed by West Midlands with 8.6 per cent of staff from diverse backgrounds.
Asians make up the majority, 40 per cent of the BME workforce; 29 per cent are mixed race, 19.7 per cent are black and 11.2 per cent are from a Chinese or “other” ethnic groups.
The minister for policing, criminal justice and victims, Mike Penning, said there was no need for positive discrimination to increase the numbers of BME officers, despite leading figures in the industry calling for the move.
“Forces are making real progress, and to introduce such action would not only erode the credibility and confidence of individual officers, it would also undermine the public’s expectation that progression in the police is based on merit alone,” he said.
“It is vital that the police reflect the communities they serve and I am determined to improve BME representation in all of the 43 forces in England and Wales.”
Penning added: “Our reforms, including innovative schemes such as Direct Entry and Police Now, are making the police workforce more diverse than ever before and showing that you can achieve better representation while attracting the brightest and the best into policing.”