UK
22/10/2015 04:15 BST | Updated 22/10/2015 09:59 BST

Theresa May Says The Lack Of Diversity In Police Forces In England And Wales Is 'Not Good Enough'

The level of diversity in police forces across England and Wales is "not good enough", Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

The latest figures show that four forces do not have a single black officer of African-Caribbean origin.

May also challenged police over the lack of women in the force. They make up just 28% of police workforce.

theresa may

Theresa May

Home Office figures show that no force reflects the racial make up of its population, having a low percentage of BME staff and officers, while four forces - Cheshire, Durham, Dyfed-Powys and North Yorkshire – have no black officers.

In a speech today, May said: "Incredibly, four forces do not employ any black or black British police officers at all, and female officers make up 28% of all police officers but 51% of the total population.

"This comes on top of existing statistics showing that there are only two BME chief officers in England and Wales, and 11 forces have no BME officers above chief inspector rank.

"This is simply not good enough. I hope these figures will provide chief constables with the information they need to identify areas for improvement and for the public and PCCs to hold them to account."

May told the National Black Police Association conference that more must be done to increase the number of women and ethnic minority officers.

She added: "Increasing diversity in our police forces is not an optional extra. It goes right to the heart of this country's historic principle of policing by consent.

"We must ensure that the public have trust and confidence in the police, and that the police reflect the communities they serve," the Press Association reports.

The College of Policing said that it was on a "long and sustained journey" trying to improve the "recruitment, development, progression and retention of BME officers and staff", Politics Homes reports.

May also contradicted Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe after the Met Police Commissioner suggested that reforms to stop and search powers have resulted in an increase in knife crime in London.

bernard hoganhowe

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe

The Home Secretary's attack on Britain's most senior police chief is striking. The two disagree with the police's stop and search powers, with the commissioner saying earlier this year: "If we are getting to the stage where people think they can carry knives with impunity, that can't be good for anyone."

But May said that claims that knife crime is rising as a result of curbs on the policing method were "simply not true".

The commissioner's five year term expires next year. He is appointed by the Home Secretary, who takes into consideration the views the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

May and Johnson - each mooted to be Tory leadership hopefuls - are at loggerheads over the police's powers.

The Home Secretary's speech suggests that she could overrule Johnson in reappointing the police chief for another term.

May said that officers must resist making a "knee-jerk reaction on the back of a false link" over stop and search powers and the impact they are having on knife crime.

SEE ALSO:

Most of the reduction in Met Police stop and searches relates to suspicions over drug or property crimes, with "blade" stops accounting for less than 1%.

When reforms of the system were announced in 2014 just one in 10 stop and searches led to an arrest and black people were seven times more likely to be stopped than whites.

May said: "Stop and search is an important police power – and I will always back police officers who use their powers legitimately and accountably.

"But when stop and search is misapplied, and when people are stopped and searched for no good reason, it is unfair, it wastes valuable police time, and it damages the relationship between communities and the police.

"I know there are those who say that our reforms have gone too far, that the pendulum has swung too much the other way, and that reforms to stop and search are linked to knife crime in our capital and elsewhere.

"But to them I say this: stop and search reform has worked, it must continue, and – if you look at the evidence – it shows no link whatsoever with violent crime."