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Britain’s first Asian officer calls for increase in police diversity

Britain’s first Asian officer calls for increase in police diversity

Categories: Latest News

Thursday March 24 2016

The Coventry Telegraph reports on the remarks by Britain’s first ethnic minority police officer on diversity in police recruitment.

Former police constable Mohammed Daar joined West Midlands Police on 16 March 1966. News of his appointment was published on the front page of a number of national newspapers at the time as he became the first Black or Asian man person to wear an officer’s uniform and patrol the streets of Coventry.

This week, he spoke of his pride at being Britain’s first “foreign born” policeman.

Daar recalled feeling immense pride at working within the force. Having moved from Tanzania to Britain, he lived in Coventry where 90% of the population was white.

He told the local paper: “I was treated very well. I had the height, I had the build and I was experienced. The best thing of all my colleagues, the English, were all protecting me. There was no racism from colleagues – it makes me proud because it was a different era then. But I know a couple of other officers who had a terrible time. One in Birmingham had swastikas painted on his house and another at Nuneaton was also treated very badly.”

He added: “After two years I decided to leave. They weren’t very happy. They were disappointed. I thought they would use my expertise. I wanted to get into CID but I couldn’t get in. It was the right thing for me to do to leave. But if I had some support from the top people about my prospects I might have stayed. To become Chief Constable at the time would have been unthinkable because of my religion and the colour of my skin.”

Fifty years on, Mr Daar said there are still not enough ethnic minority police officers. He said: “In Coventry now there are perhaps three or four Asian Police officers – that’s not good. It’s disappointing.”

The recruitment and retention of officers from a BME background has been an ongoing problem affecting police forces in England and Wales. In 1999, the MacPherson report observed a dire need to improve the recruitment and retention of police officers from minority ethnic backgrounds but 17 years on, the number of BME officers in the police force in England and Wales has not increased substantially with the number of BME officers rising from around 3% in 2004 to 5.5% in 2015.

Home Office figures published in March 2013 showed that only 5% of all officers within police forces in England and Wales were from a BME background while the figure for the UK’s BME population stands at 14.1%, according to the 2011 census. Individuals from Minority Ethnic groups also made up a disproportionately small number of officers in senior roles. In 2015, less than 5% of chief superintendents were from a BME background and only 1% of chief officers.

Figures released last year revealed that none of the police forces in England or Wales reflected the ethnic make-up of their local constabulary populations. Four police forces had low levels of BME officers, Cheshire, North Yorkshire, Dyfed-Powys and Durham, while none of the four had officers from a Black background despite employing 5,692 officers in total. Eleven forces were found to have no BME officers at a position above the rank of chief inspector and 15 out of the 43 forces had less than five Black officers in the entire force.

Some forces have tried to address the problem of BME recruitment holding campaigns to target people from BME backgrounds, for example Northamptonshire Police. The Metropolitan Police Service recently revealed its success in raising the number of BME recruits following a recruitment campaign banning the hiring of officers living outside London. The move saw the Met double the number of BME recruits between June and August 2015, up at 26% compared to 12% in the same quarter last year.


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