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West Midlands fails to increase proportion of black officers in 5 years


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West Midlands recruitment lead says the force is doing more to attract black members of the community into policing.


West Midlands Police recruitment poster

Date - 24th March 2021
By - Chloe Livadeas

Stephen Walcott, a researcher at the Police Foundation, gave a presentation to the Police Foundation conference last month in which he stated that the proportion of black officers in West Midlands Police had not increased on average in the past five years.

This is despite the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner setting an ambitious uplift target that 1,000 of the 2,800 officers recruited by 2023 will be from BAME communities.  

The figures used by Mr Walcott are based on Home Office police workforce statistics for March of each year. These exclude black officers recruited between April 2020 and December 2020 as such data was not available at the time of research. His figures on black officer  recrutiment in the force are as follows:

March 2016: 1.5% (102 officers)

March 2017: 1.5% (100)

March 2018: 1.5% (98)

March 2019: 1.4% (93)

March 2020: 1.4% (93)

Regional ethnicity data shows that West Midlands has the biggest black population in the UK outside London - around 3.3 per cent. That figure is expected to be much higher off the back of the recently held 2021 census. 

The force says it is set to recruit 2,800 officers by 2023, growing officer numbers by around 1,200, and the Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has set a target of 1,000 of the new officers being from under-represented communities.

Chris Thurley, Assistant Director, leading the WMP recruitment drive, said the uplift “offers a great opportunity for us to encourage more people from under-represented communities across the West Midlands to consider a police career”.

He acknowledged: “In particular we continue to see lower numbers of recruits joining us from black communities, albeit we have seen some slight increases since our recruitment drive began.

“We know more needs to be done to ensure people from the black community feel that policing is somewhere they can belong."

He said colleagues across the force and from the Black and Asian Police Association who work to support the recruitment drive were helping to “show that people from the black community are part of our police family and are working to effect change”.

He added there were several initiatives underway internally and externally that are intended to support colleagues to grow and work towards promotion.

“We recognise that engaging candidates from black communities isn’t just about recruitment.  The force are working with the PCC to deliver a plan focused on improving our relationships and policing response to black communities, ensuring we learn from the experience of individuals, adapting our style, tone and understanding.”

A spokesperson for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in the West Midlands said: “For many reasons, recruiting black officers requires particular focus.  Our Fairness and Belonging Programme is designed to address policing and criminal justice issues of concern to our Black population.  We are engaged in a wide ranging recruitment drive that uses a variety of methods to make our offer as attractive as possible. 

"Though there remains much to be done, it is encouraging that at the present time 5.17 per cent of police officer applicants have Black or mixed-Black backgrounds, which is close to the population of the West Midlands with these backgrounds.”

The OPCC also said nearly 24 per cent of all current applicants come from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds and since July 2019, 17.2 per cent of joiners have come from these backgrounds.  "These are some of the highest percentages in the country," it added.

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