A Yorkshire police force has been urged to look again at its recruitment plans after its crime commissioner claimed not enough progress had been made on making its workforce more diverse.
North Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan says more needs to be done, at her county force and across the country, to address racial inequality.
It comes after the Government’s Race Disparity Audit, announced by the Prime Minister last summer, showed disparities in educational attainment, health, employment and treatment by police and courts between ethnicities.
In 2014, Yorkshire’s police forces were accused of failing to represent the communities they serve after analysis by The Yorkshire Post showed that all but a tiny fraction of their senior officers are white.
The following year, North Yorkshire Police was singled out for criticism by then-Home Secretary Theresa May for failing to employ any black or black British officers.
Mrs Mulligan said today: “I am concerned about the findings of the audit, especially with regard to policing and crime. It is clear more needs to be done nationally and in North Yorkshire.
Whilst I don’t doubt the police’s sincerity for a moment, I do question whether or not sufficient progress has been made.Julia Mulligan
“The police here were singled out over a year ago for their lack of diversity and I remain concerned that not enough progress has been made, despite the current recruitment into the
force and genuine efforts to address the problem. As a consequence, I will be asking the police to look again at their recruitment plans.
“In addition, I’ve also heard firsthand from communities in our county that having a more representative workforce is key to improving understanding and relationships between the police and the public.
“Whilst I don’t doubt the police’s sincerity for a moment, I do question whether or not sufficient progress has been made.”
North Yorkshire Police says it currently has four Asian officers, 12 of mixed ethnicity, which includes mixed Afro-Caribbean, and zero black officers. The wider workforce, such as police staff, includes Asian, black and mixed race ethnicity.
The proportion of non-white officers in the force, 1.23 per cent as of March, compares with a non-white population of 2.7 per cent in the county as a whole, according to the 2011 census.
Last year, a report said North Yorkshire’s minority ethnic population had grown in both size and diversity over the past years and is now more than 30,000 people.
Deputy Chief Constable Lisa Winward said: “We are working hard to increase the diversity of our workforce at North Yorkshire Police.
“We have launched a Positive Action plan to make sure that we reach out to all parts of the community – that includes ethnic communities, but also LGBT and women who are under-represented in some parts of our organisation.
“As part of the Positive Action plan, we have improved our links with Mosques and BME communities in Skipton, Catterick and York – as well as over the border in West Yorkshire - and we are actively encouraging people to consider policing as a career.
“We have started a series of workshops to support potential applicants from under-represented groups, by helping them to understand what we are looking for, and how to make a strong application.
We’re also looking at the whole of our recruitment and promotion process to check that it is fair and unbiased.
“This isn’t about preferential treatment. It’s about giving people with talent the best opportunity to shine - whatever their gender, sexuality, religion or cultural background.
“On ethnic diversity, we are already seeing some encouraging results. In our last intake of PCSOs and Special Constables there was a significant uplift in applications from BME communities.
“We are still in the Specials assessment process, but we expect to see this result in more appointments in due course.
“We are just about to start a wide-ranging officer recruitment campaign, so we are working to continue the trend, and we hope to see a similar increase in applications here too.
“We have a high retention rate at North Yorkshire Police, so it takes time to change the diversity of the workforce – but we’re on that journey.”