Police Scotland launch drive to recruit more BAME officers

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POLICE SCOTLAND has launched a new recruitment drive aimed at creating a more diverse force which is representative of Scottish society.

The new recruitment initiative will look to address the under-representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in the police, who make up just one per cent of officers in Scotland.

It also aims to attract more women, who make up 29 per cent of the force, as well as those currently unemployed.

Plans include better engagement with ethnic communities, such as closer contact with mosques and services used by minorities.

For the first time in more than two decades, a driving licence will no longer be a requirement for joining the force recognising the fact that many who may want to join the force do not own one.

The initiative comes as results from a police survey revealed that a third of the workforce intended to leave the organisation.

Chief Inspector Ann Bell, who is playing a leading role in the recruitment drive said: “Only one per cent of the force come from ethnic minorities though they are four per cent in the census. It’s clear that we have a lot of work to do. This seems like the perfect time to try and look at what we have to do in terms of moving forward. For lots of people from ethnic minorities there are barriers in terms of the perception of what the police are for.

“Some of our new Scots, who come here from around the world, may have very good reason to fear the police due to personal experiences in their home countries.”

Bell and her team of four are training local officers around the country to ensure they are primed to answer questions from the public that might encourage them to consider a career in the police.

“We need to try to get a better understanding of the barriers,” said Bell. “We have to be out there in communities. The reality is that when police officers are out on duty they spend most of their time talking to people so we need to make sure that every interaction is a positive one.”

WELCOMED

The plans were welcomed by community and civil rights groups, many of whom believe outgoing Chief Constable Stephen House has failed to tackle issues around diversity.

In June he was heavily criticised by representatives of the Pakistan Welfare Trust (PWT) for the use of stop and search tactics that ‘disproportionately’ impacted on those of Pakistani origin living in Scotland.

He has also been asked to explain why he blamed an increase in housebreakings in Edinburgh on East Europeans, though figures do not back up such a claim.

His decision to resign comes against a background of controversies that have engulfed the force, including the death of Sheku Bayoh. The Sierra Leonean died after being arrested and restrained by police in Kirkcaldy in May.

However, Bell’s team hopes now to strengthen community relationships.

The Scottish Police Muslim Association claims it is already seeing an increase in enquiries from new arrivals from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, who were police officers in their home countries.

However Jatin Haria, executive director for the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) Scotland, warned against the “well-intentioned” police initiative becoming “simply a PR exercise”, and claimed that the main issue was with retention, not recruitment.

Though only one per cent of officers are from BAME backgrounds, they make up two per cent of applications.

CRITERIA

Haria said: “[BAME] applications are being shortlisted, which means they are meeting the criteria but they are not getting the jobs. That could be because of discrimination. But it shows clearly that the system is not working.”

Haria called for an independent review into the figures and said he “would not be surprised” if the experience of BAME officers was not always positive.

Source: http://www.voice-online.co.uk

In : London

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