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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Ethnic recruits get helping hand
White and black police recruits
More recruits from ethnic minorities are wanted for the police
Police forces in England and Wales are behind their targets for the recruitment of Asian and black officers, even though recruits are being given an extra leg-up to get them through the system.

The Asian Network's Liza Booth was given access to one of the Positive Action sessions, aimed at providing support to applicants from ethnic minorities.

It is a rainy night at Lancashire police headquarters, but neither the weather nor the smells of canteen food is putting off these would-be officers.

They are young, bright and set on a career in the police, but the force's own statistics say they are unlikely to get through unless they have this extra help.

PC Zack Hill is running this session, and he is armed with tips and advice on how to get through the system.

"I'm not going to give you the answers," he says. "But this material is typical of what you'll see next week, and the assessor is working through this checklist."

POLICE RECRUITMENT TARGETS
The Home Office has set a target of having 7% of ethnic minority recruits by 2009
Targets were set after the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence in 1999, to make the police service more representative.
Ethnic minority police numbers rose to 3.7% in 2005/06 but should have reached 4% in 2004

And he should know, in a few day's time he'll be one of the assessors at the training centre deciding if any of these men and women should get a job.

If you are from an ethnic minority, you are 20% less likely to fill in your application form correctly and 15% less likely to pass the practical tests.

It's harder than I thought, but going through it has given me a great insight
Ayesha Hatia

It means across England and Wales, recruitment levels are still at 3.7%, when that figure should have been 4% by 2004.

It is not because they're less bright says PC Hill, it is just that the system is more daunting.

"White applicants are far more likely to know someone who's already in the police, so they've already got that person who'll look through their application form and tell them if they're on the right track.

"We have to do everything we can not to lose quality candidates."

'Great insight'

An hour in, and the group are getting talked through a role-play exercise - they're acting as an officer dealing with a complaint about a Big Issue seller.

I don't see why our white counterparts shouldn't receive this service. It's not like we are under-educated or anything like that. I'm not sure if it's fair or not.
Mohammed Lorgat

The applicant must challenge any offensive views without insulting the complainant, and still resolve the problem.

"It's harder than I thought, but going through it has given me a great insight. It should definitely increase my chances," says Ayesha Hatia.

But the system is not popular with many white recruits.

"If one lot's getting help and the other lot aren't, then how can that be fair?" one white recruit told the BBC.

"It's not right. If they can't get in like everyone else, then they shouldn't get in at all."

Another white recruit said he had concerns that prospective recruits from ethnic minorities were being "pampered".

He said: "As a white man I'm starting to feel like the poor relation. They seem to forget that Great Britain is predominantly a white Christian country."

Ayesha Hatia leaves at the end of the night feeling "100% more confident".

She is confident that if she gets the job her future colleagues will not hold it against her that she had help they did not. But Mohammed Lorgat is more uncomfortable.

"I don't see why our white counterparts shouldn't receive this service. It's not like we are under-educated or anything like that. I'm not sure if it's fair or not.

"If it was everyone here, it would be better."


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