A new strategy which aims to make police forces across the country more diverse has been welcomed by Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner, PCC David Keane.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) is recommending that all senior leaders in policing are formally assessed on their efforts to improve diversity within their operational command as part of their Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Strategy.
It is one of a number of recommendations in a new toolkit for police forces, designed to help them attract and retain more people from underrepresented groups. The toolkit is part of a broader strategy that aims to make policing more diverse and inclusive, and build confidence with groups who, historically, have lower levels of trust in policing.
Nationally, the number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and female officers are at the highest levels since records began but such groups are still under-represented when compared to the general population and the communities they serve. The strategy addresses nine different protected characteristics including race, gender, religion and disability.
David said: “My role as your elected police and crime commissioner is to hold the chief constable to account to ensure the constabulary’s workforce is diverse and representative of the communities it serves.
“When I was elected in 2016, I was surprised to read comments made by the then Home Secretary that Cheshire had no black officers, so I made it my priority to lead the charge to ensure we recruit officers from a diverse range of backgrounds. We now have a total of 32 officers and PCSOs who are of BAME origin. We also have 27 officers and three PCSOs who declare they have a disability.
“I’m proud the constabulary has recently been recognised for its efforts - including being named the top police service for increasing diversity by ‘Stonewall’ and becoming a ‘Disability Confident Lead Employer’- but there is still more we can do.
“This strategy and toolkit will help the constabulary make better use of the talents and skills of people from all backgrounds which will, in turn, give officers a better understanding of the needs of diverse communities, increasing the potential to build trust with all communities throughout Cheshire which will improve their ability to tackle crime and support victims.”
The strategy has been informed by independent research from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), which showed police officers and staff felt a lack of accountability from senior leaders was impeding progress.
The research also identified the need for further, and continued, data collection. This included a recommendation for forces to collect statistics on other, sometimes less visible characteristics such as religion, disabilities and sexual orientation, and, in particular, do more to build staff confidence to self-disclose.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary will have the responsibility of scrutinising police forces’ progress against the strategy.