Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Sunday, 18 May 2008 13:30 UK

Fairer jobs call for black police

Cheshire's Chief Constable on finding a 'dynamic workforce'

Fairer selection is need in the police to promote black and Asian officers to the top ranks, a police chief has said.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Chief Constable of Cheshire Peter Fahy admitted whispering campaigns were holding back ethnic minorities.

Until recently Mr Fahy was the lead on race diversity for the police service.

Cmdr Ali Dizaei of the National Black Police Association said the police was "institutionally racist" and selected "acceptable not suitable" candidates.

'Face not fitting'

Currently, seven out of more than 200 officers at assistant chief constable rank and above are from ethnic minorities.

According to BBC correspondent Barnie Choudhury, many within the police believe there are whispering campaigns to stop them reaching the top.

There is a danger in a police force which has got a hierarchy and long traditions... you tend to mould people to act in a particular way and that can work against people from ethnic minorities
Chief Constable Peter Fahy

Asked whether this was true, Mr Fahy said he could not deny this was happening.

He said in an organisation like the police, if you had a problem with your "face not fitting" you would find it difficult to belong within "existing power networks".

Policing was almost unique "in that people have to work their way up from the bottom to get to the top" which, he said, took a long time.

"The other weakness of the system is that you are then relying on individuals to fight their way up through the organisation.

"You are asking those individuals not only to be really good senior police leaders, but also almost to be role models and standard bearers and almost fight the prevailing culture to make sure that they get to the top."

This, he said, was a "weakness" in their approach.

It is [the police] less institutionally racist than 10 years ago. Have we got a clean bill of health now? No. Is it within our grasp? Possibly
Commander Ali Dizaei

The organisation also needed the "atmosphere" where people of different culture and backgrounds and different approaches were "recognised and valued".

"There is a danger in a police force which has got a hierarchy and long traditions... you tend to mould people to act in a particular way and that can work against people from ethnic minorities."

Responding to Mr Fahy's comments, Metropolitan Police Commander Ali Dizaei told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme the police was "institutionally racist".

"It is less institutionally racist than 10 years ago," he said.

"Have we got a clean bill of health now? No. Is it within our grasp? Possibly."

The Iranian-born officer, who is the National Black Police Association president, attempted to become a commander five times before he was accepted.

He was also at the centre of a four-year 4m investigation over allegations of perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office. He was cleared of the charges by the Old Bailey in 2003.

He told Andrew Marr the allegations had been racially motivated.

"We are told a lot of anecdotal evidence and representations from black and Asian officers and support staff up and down the country that they have to work twice as hard to get recognised."

He said the system was "based on who was acceptable rather than suitable".




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