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HMIC inspection reports finds police forces still failing on BME recruitment

HMIC inspection reports finds police forces still failing on BME recruitment

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday July 12 2016

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of the Constabulary (HMIC) has published reports covering four constabularies, Bedfordshire, Staffordshire, Essex and Surrey, as part of the effectiveness strand in its all-inspection PEEL programme – Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy – covering all 43 police forces in England and Wales.

The current publications cover 2015’s PEEL Vulnerability Revisit, serving as a revision of the findings first published in February 2016. The reviews seek to focus on four different police forces whose ability to protect vulnerable people from harm was considered lacking when the research was undertaken in December 2015.

The system for assessing Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy examines the ways different issues are being addressed across a of number police forces in the UK, including their rates of Stop and Search usage, their success rates in protecting vulnerable people from crime, the ways in which they engage with local communities under their remit, and levels of black and ethnic minority representation across the police staff.

In terms of Bedfordshire Police’s ability to protect vulnerable victims, HMIC concluded that the force still does not provide enough support for domestic abuse victims, and that its staff do not have enough training and awareness on how to deal with vulnerable people as a whole.

The report released in February 2016 noted Bedfordshire’s reported compliance with the Best Use of Stop and Search Practice, which regulates how and under what circumstances the police powers can be used. Yet it noted that many stop and search records don’t contain details of why the method is considered appropriate to use in individual circumstances, which is a significant oversight.

Also, in terms of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BME) representation in the local police force, staff from those backgrounds made up only 6% of Bedfordshire’s total police staff. This is despite the near quarter of the local population, 23%, that are from a BME background.

As regards the force’s engagement with the local community, the report maintained that the force had shown some degree of excellence in showing sensitivity to the level of diversity within Bedfordshire, and often visits schools and attend local meetings to address people’s concerns. However, this is apparently not consistent across the whole of the force.

The police force in Surrey was deemed to have improved its staff training in terms of how to protect vulnerable people from crime and how to assess risk. However, the force was still judged as inadequate at making sure victims were receiving the kind of service they had a right to expect in line with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.

In terms of its approach to Stop and Search as a law enforcement method, in theFebruary 2016 report Surrey Police was regarded as not doing enough to ensure supervisors were checking and endorsing all Stop and Search records.

The force’s engagement with the local community was deemed to be at a good standard, with officers using a mixture of local meetings and social media to gauge people’s concerns.

Regarding its diversity levels, only 4% of the Surrey police force’s staff were from BME backgrounds. This compares against the BME make-up of the local population as a whole, which stands at 10%.

The revision of the Essex police forceconcluded the force had made significant improvements to how it approaches people vulnerable to crime, including making them the central focus of their entire strategy. It has also improved its safeguarding arrangements and response rates to people reporting domestic abuse.

The report from February 2016 claimed Essex police effectively complies with the Best Use of Stop and Search Practice, including having a rigorous independent review process and an effective system for investigating complaints. It also has a good level of engagement with the local community and is developing a new communications strategy for this purpose.

In terms of its diversity levels, only 2% of its staff are from BME backgrounds, compared with 7% of the local population.

Staffordshire’s police force was judged by the revision to be trying to improve the way it protects vulnerable victims, yet its levels of supervision over these improvement processes were deemed likely to take some time to take root. It also has more work to do in its efforts at safeguarding children.

As regards its attitudes to Stop and Search, Staffordshire police does not comply with the Best Use scheme in terms of its levels of accountability, including keeping records of the reasons for its use of the police powers and how frequently it is used on young people.

In terms of its engagement with the local community, Staffordshire police were regarded as outstanding by the report from February 2016, with an effective response rate to local concerns and a clear communications strategy.

With regard to diversity levels, the rate of those from BME backgrounds within the police force was only at 2%, when people from BME backgrounds make up 6% of the local population.

The latest publications in the PEEL reports show police diversity continues to be a problem in police recruitment despite efforts in recent years to implement initiatives to raise the proportion of officers from BME backgrounds.

The Government’s BME2020 strategyplaces an onus on police diversity and raising the number of police officers recruited from BME background, but it is not clear if the targets to be achieved relate to BME diversity at a national or regional level.

In 2009, BME police officers accounted for around 4.4% of the total police staff, below the 7% target set by the Home Office in 1999 when the Macpherson report accused the police of ‘institutional racism’. Additionally, figures in 2014 show the number of BME officers had increased marginally, to 5.6%, with only 4 of the 44 English and Welsh forces reaching the 7% target.

The recent HMIC report illustrate the importance of forces implementing targeted recruitment campaigns if they are to reflect the composition of the population they serve.


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