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Monday, August 9, 1999 Published at 02:49 GMT 03:49 UK

UK Politics

Drive to boost black police numbers

Forces have been told to put race equality high on their agenda

Every police force in England and Wales is being urged to set up a mentoring scheme to help new black and Asian recruits and increase the number of officers from ethnic minorities.

Special Report: Stephen Lawrence
The move comes in the wake of the Macpherson Report into the investigation of the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence in south London.

The Home Office has also told all forces to start interviewing staff who resign to find out why they are leaving.

Some forces have already set up a system for applicants and new recruits to be teamed with an older colleague to watch over them and help them progress through the ranks. The Home Office is keen to see similar schemes in place throughout the whole country.

[ image: Police failings in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry prompted concern over race]
Police failings in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry prompted concern over race
Publishing the national action plan, Home Office minister Charles Clarke said: "Race equality should be high on the agenda of every force in England and Wales.

"It is vital that the police service meets the challenging, but clearly achievable, targets that have been set."

Chief constables are also being told to support and actively promote staff networks such as the National Black Police Association, a body which has previously been fiercely opposed by some senior officers.

A December deadline has been set for all forces to conduct a full race relations/cultural audit, against which progress over the coming years will be measured.

[ image:  ]
The 25-point plan includes a review of all recruitment procedures. It also follows the setting of targets for the recruitment, retention and promotion of ethnic minority officers earlier this year.

Forces have been told to bring the number of ethnic officers into line with their local populations within 10 years.

At the moment there are only 2,191 black and Asians at constable level out of a total of 97,671 and only six black and Asian superintendents out of 1,237.

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Ethnic diversity: The roots of the future - Commission for Racial Equality

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