A police sergeant with the City of London Police has said he does not believe quotas are the way to address the chronic shortage of Asian and black officers in the UK’s forces.
Asif Sadiq, who has been an officer for 10 years after gaining an insight into the career as a special constable, speaks at universities, schools and community organisations to try and encourage more people from ethnic minorities to apply for positions in the police.
Sadiq’s comments came a week after home secretary Theresa May challenged the 43 forces in England and Wales to do more to increase the diversity of their workforce.
Figures released last Thursday (22) revealed that not one of the regions had a black and minority ethnic (BAME) staff team which reflected its population.
Labour’s candidate for London mayor, Sadiq Khan recently said that he would back a quota system for minority officers in the Metropolitan Police if he is selected.
But Sadiq told Eastern Eye the tightening of budgets, which had resulted in a recruitment freeze, had adversely affected the number of black and Asians in the service. He said: “I don’t agree with quotas. I don’t want people to say I’ve only been promoted because of the way I look. With quotas, you run the danger of making people feel that way.”
The City of London has 46 BAME officers, which represents 6.3 per cent of the workforce. However, 21.4 per cent of the population it ser-ves comprises people from minority communities.
Sadiq said he became a police offi-cer because he wan-ted to make a difference. As a Muslim man, he thought it was important that people saw Asians as making a positive contribution to society.
The Muslim community has, in the past decade, had a strained relationship with the police after being targeted through the government’s counter-extremism strategies.
Sadiq, however, said this was slowly changing. “There used to be a bit of resistance over the past few years. Unfortunately when things do go wrong, the community get the backlash and the Muslim community want to do the best they can to avoid that. They understand that we all need to work together,” he said.
Speaking at the National Black Police Association’s conference in Birmingham, May said: “Increasing diversity in our police forces is not an optional extra. It goes right to the heart of this country’s historic principle of policing by consent. We must ensure that the public have trust and confidence in the police, and that the police reflect the communities they serve.
“Incredibly, four forces do not employ any black British police officers at all, and female officers make up 28 per cent of all police officers but 51 per cent of the total population. There are only two BAME chief officers in England and Wales, and 11 forces have no BAME officers above chief inspector rank.
“This is simply not good enough. I hope these figures will provide chief constables with the information they need to identify areas for improvement and for the public and PCCs to hold them to account.”
The government is set to launch the BAME 2020 Vision strategy, which will be calling on all public sector organisations to make their workforces more racially representative.