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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 September, 2004, 07:39 GMT 08:39 UK
Quotas call by black police group
Police recruits
The number of minority officers should be in proportion to the area
The government should consider setting quotas to increase the number of ethnic minority police officers, said the National Black Police Association.

Members say they want to reopen the debate before their annual conference later this month.

Ten-year targets were set after the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence in 1999, to make the police service more representative.

But many forces are likely to fall short, said the NBPA.

The organisation said this was despite a series of initiatives to encourage black and Asian people to apply.

The Macpherson report recommended police forces should have ethnic minority officers in proportion to the community being served.

Progression

Ministers must now "seriously consider" affirmative action, under which a set number of posts at all ranks of the police service would be reserved for ethnic minorities, said the NBPA.

The move would be likely to require legislation.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said it had concerns about the proposal - but agreed "radical" measures were needed if ethnic minority candidates were to be fast-tracked into the service.

Police Federation chairman Jan Berry told BBC Radio 4's Today programme targets were needed but "if you have a quota you are giving preferential treatment to one group".

She added: "This causes resentment among a workforce that uses teamwork to get on."

Difficulty

She called the targets set for some areas "unachievable".

"There are seven forces who will have great difficulty meeting the targets. To meet them by 2009 they will have to recruit 80% black officers," she said.

But Supt Ali Dizaei, one of Britain's top ethnic minority officers, told the programme that if two applicants of the same standard - one black, one white - were interviewed for a job and were the same standard, the black applicant should get it.

"There is no evidence at all that this debate, if implemented, is going to cause resentment," he said.

"In the US, a Gallup poll showed that 80% of people agreed with this kind of selection."

In April this year the Metropolitan Black Police Association (MBPA) suggested using positive discrimination to make the force more representative of London's racial mix.

Knock-on effect

The association put forward the idea to the Morris Inquiry which was investigating how internal complaints concerning ethnic minority officers were carried out.

At the time president of the National Black Police Association, Ray Powell, said positive discrimination would be useful in areas where there are a high percentage of ethnic minorities.

But he said there were already problems with 'positive action policies' in the police force.

"If we are to have any affirmative action, it should be on retention and progression, not recruitment. That would produce a knock-on effect, by example.

"Black and Asian officers like to know they make the grade as a detective because they are a good detective. They can recruit as many people as they like, but set them up to fail," he said.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"The slow pace of change is pushing this debate into new territory"



SEE ALSO:
Drive to recruit black officers
01 Jul 04  |  Oxfordshire


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