Sadiq Khan has hailed Britain’s biggest police force for reaching 4,000 ethnic minority officers for the first time – but admits “we need to do far better”.
In an interview with Eastern Eye, the mayor of London said he will get legal advice on what the Metropolitan Police can do to become more diverse.
Khan watched 311 new recruits pass their Met training last Friday (9) in Hendon, north London, 79 of whom were from a BME (black and minority ethnic) background.
The former Labour MP admitted having more officers from different backgrounds was a long-running saga but believes progress is being made.
He told Eastern Eye: “It’s good news that we’ve reached an important milestone, more than 4,000 BME officers.
“I accept the police service in London, although we’re far better than other police services around the country, doesn’t look like the city that we police so I’m going to be getting top legal advice to see what more I can do.
“Its not about tokenism, it’s about building trust and respect between the police and Londoners.
“For example we’re already saying to new recruits, in the last six years, you have to live in London for three years. If you have a second language that is important, indirect ways to make it more representative.”
He added: “If we were talking five or 10 years ago we would be having a similar conversation
“We need to do much better. It’s all in our interests, our officers need to communicate effectively with communities and gain local knowledge.”
Out of the Met’s 32,000 officers, 4,033 are from a BME community and around 8,000 are women.
Khan added he was “concerned” after a report last week found that BME Met staff who complained about discrimination said they expected to be victimised and denied promotion by bosses.
The research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission called for the force to change how they handle complaints after it found evidence of poor record keeping of cases and a “general reluctance” to admit mistakes and apologise.
The mayor said: “We need to make sure that nobody who joins the police service feels victimised.
“The findings are welcome, we need to make sure we’re not complacent.
“There was a perception of victimisation from those who raise complaints. That concerns me, nobody should feel mistreated because of their race, gender or sexual orientation.
“I operate a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination of any kind. I will be actively overseeing the Met polices plans to tackle these perceptions.”
The former lawyer believes the Met, led by its commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has made a lot of progress since it was branded “institutionally racist” by the Macpherson report in 1999. It followed the force’s blunders in its investigation into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993.
Khan said: “Since Macpherson, there has been huge progress.
“We’re not perfect but I’m proud of the fact we’ve got 4,000 BME officers and more than a quarter of new recruits are BME.”