Black people in Hertfordshire still underrepresented in police force
Hertfordshire Police says it has made considerable efforts to tackle this issue
Black people in Hertfordshire continue to be underrepresented by their police force despite the recruitment of more than 100 new officers.
Home Office data shows Hertfordshire Police recruited 156 new officers in the nine months to the end of 2020. But of the 148 new recruits who declared their ethnicity, one was black.
It leaves the force with just 15 black police officers overall, accounting for 0.7% of the 2,154 officers whose ethnicity was recorded.
That is despite black people accounting for 2.6% of the population served by Hertfordshire Constabulary, according to the mid-2016 population estimates – the latest to have an ethnicity breakdown.
Hertfordshire Police say that in the latest police officer recruitment drive, eight per cent of the successful candidates identified as BAME.
The figures reflected the picture across England and Wales as a whole, where 1.2% of officers are black despite black people making up 3.4% of the population.
That was slightly lower than 1.3% in March last year, but up from 1% in March 2010.
Hertfordshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Bill Jephson said: “The reasons for under-presentation are complex and are reflected across the majority of UK police forces. However we have made considerable efforts to tackle this issue in Hertfordshire.
“Through our recruitment processes, we continue to reach out to people right across our community to say please come forward and apply to us.
"Our dedicated Positive Action team helps candidates from diverse groups through the application process with support and mentoring.
“When including public facing roles such as PCSOs, we currently have 121 officers and staff from black, Asian or other minority ethnic groups. And in our latest police officer recruitment drive, 8% of the successful candidates identified as BAME, indicating that we are making some progress in this area.
“The constabulary is a great place to work with personal and professional support, training and opportunities for career development.
"We also have active and engaged representation groups and senior leaders with responsibility for diversity issues.
"The interests of minority groups are well represented and they have a strong voice within the organisation.
“We want our workforce to reflect the communities we serve and protect, and welcome applications from people from all ethnicities. For more information on joining go to hertspoliceofficer.co.uk/diversity.”
The National Black Police Association (NBPA) says police forces need to show more ambition in recruiting officers from BAME backgrounds, while the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) accepts "much more needs to be done".
And the NBPA president, Andy George, said the association remains concerned over the make-up of police forces in relation to the communities they serve.
He said: "The recent uplift in police recruitment has shown some improvements in this area but we would like to see a more ambitious drive to increase the number of officers and staff members from BAME backgrounds.
"We are unconvinced the current recruitment uplift will be used as the once in a lifetime opportunity it is, to reset the workforce composition."
The NPCC said forces across the country have set action plans to ensure recruitment attracts people from minority ethnic backgrounds.
A spokesperson added: "We are actively engaging with communities who are currently underrepresented in policing to understand the barriers and address any misconceptions."
Meaning, policing minister Kit Malthouse said police forces are "more diverse than ever before".
He added: "The recruitment of 20,000 additional police officers presents a once in a generation opportunity to ensure they are even more reflective of the communities they serve.
“National diversity recruitment data is being collected and monitored for the first time ever, with appropriate support in place to help forces attract people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
"Where appropriate, we will take direct action to address poor performance in this area.”
The Government's police recruitment campaign was launched in October 2019, with each force handed a target for the first phase ending in March this year.
Hertfordshire Constabulary recruited 274 officers between November 2019 and December last year, the figures show.
Allowing for leavers, the overall uplift over the period was 111, meaning the force has exceeded its first phase target of 91 as of the end of 2020.