West Midlands Police told to do more to improve minorities recruitment

A police chief has pledged "further action" after his force fell behind on a target to recruit officers from ethnic minority groups.

Labour PCC Simon Foster
Labour PCC Simon Foster

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Foster wants West Midlands Police to recruit 1,000 officers from BAME backgrounds by March 2025.

But a new report to his strategic board said the force was "not on target" to hit the milestone, with the current figure standing at 426 – 17 per cent of all new recruits.

This was despite representation of BAME groups across all roles in the force increasing from 14.6 per cent to 15.3 per cent over the past year, the report said.

Labour PCC Mr Foster has vowed to work with new Chief Constable Craig Guildford to "improve performance" in increasing diversity, which has been one of his priorities since he entered office in 2021.

It comes after the force last year failed to hit the PCC's target to reduce disproportionality in stop and search, with black and Asian people more likely to be targeted than white people after Mr Foster's intervention.

He said: "We say that we police by consent and that we must build trust and confidence in policing. It is therefore essential that we have a police service that is representative of the people and communities it serves.

"I am therefore disappointed, that despite the welcome improvement in the current diversity of the force, West Midlands Police is not on target to recruit the agreed 1,000 officers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

"It is clear that effective and further action needs to be taken. I am aware that our Chief Constable had a strong record of delivering on recruitment and improving diversity in Nottinghamshire. I am therefore keen to work with him, to improve performance in relation to increasing diversity.

"Although diversity has improved in the West Midlands, it is still not by enough. I will continue to provide oversight and scrutiny of this area, over the rest of my term of office."

Mr Guildford said he wanted to see the force focus on targeting different areas in order to increase BAME recruitment. He also said a schools outreach programme had been successful in boosting recruitment at his previous force, Nottinghamshire Police.

Meanwhile Mr Foster has revealed he has written to Home Secretary Suella Braverman in the wake of a Police Federation survey which found one in seven officers intend to quit the force due to low pay, anxiety and stress.

The survey, which was responded to 1,609 police officers in the region, also revealed almost nine in 10 believed morale across the force was either "low" or "very low".

Mr Foster said in his letter he had set out "exactly what the Government needs to do as a matter of urgency, all of which would contribute to restoring the morale of West Midlands Police officers".

He urged ministers to "step up with essential financial support" and provide additional funding for 1,000 officers on top of the existing uplift programme.

He also reiterated his call for a "fair funding formula" for West Midlands Police.

Mr Foster added: "In the meantime, I am committed to constant and unremitting action to effect change, development and progress in policing, to rebuild community policing, put prevention at the heart of what we do and deliver justice, safety and security for the people and communities of the West Midlands."

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