Today Home Secretary Theresa May will challenge police forces to do more to increase the diversity of their workforce at the National Black Police Association conference in Birmingham.
In her address Theresa May will say: “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.”
Avon and Somerset Police are ahead of this challenge and have been working for some months behind the scenes to set up a team known as The Representative Workforce.
The team, led by CI Norman Pascal is dedicated to raising the profile of opportunities within the constabulary. They are working to set up a sustainable process, which will be embedded into the core of all our recruitment with an extra push towards under-represented groups. This can be women, people with disabilities, BME, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. Traditionally, there has been a focus around police officer recruitment but the new work includes all roles within the constabulary.
The Representative Workforce hosted their first consultation on Friday 15 October at Trinity Road Police Station. More than 20 key members from SARI, City Academy School, The University of the West of England and other stakeholders attended a discussion on how we can be a force that represents the communities we serve.
CI Norman Pascal said: “This has been the first of many consultations and it has been a huge success. It’s really important to engage with and listen to our partners in the community so we can be an attractive employer of choice for everyone. Much of the feedback suggested we start in primary schools to change perceptions of the police at a young age.”
Feedback from the stakeholders was positive and there were many suggestions on how we can make this work. Equally, there were some suggestions about how we might tackle unconscious bias.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “This is a really exciting project and I am glad to be involved as I feel passionately about the police service reflecting the communities they serve. Avon and Somerset is a diverse and vibrant place to live and work and we need to do all we can to encourage people from a range of backgrounds to see policing as a rewarding and fulfilling career choice.”
Temporary Chief Constable Gareth Morgan said: “Avon and Somerset Constabulary accepts that it has more to do to make it a more representative workforce. I welcome the support from the Home Secretary in highlighting the ongoing challenge, but as is clear from our ongoing work, we are all too aware of the challenge confronting us and all those who work in public service to be representative of those we serve. I am determined we will make progress.”
The Representative Workforce Team will continue to consult internally and externally over the coming months.
Posted on Thursday 22nd October 2015