West Yorkshire PCC calls for government laws to make police more diverse

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has called for government legislation to boost ethnic diversity within the police force.

Friday, 1st March 2019, 4:58 pm
Updated Friday, 1st March 2019, 5:07 pm
The number of ethnic minority officers within West Yorkshire Police has increased, but is still out of proportion with figures in wider society.

Mark Burns-Williamson said that West Yorkshire Police was struggling to attract and keep hold of recruits from ethnic minorities, despite efforts to make the force more reflective of society.

A total of 5.6 per cent of all staff and officers working within West Yorkshire Police are from black, Asian and other minority groups. It represents a small increase from 5.2 per cent in December 2015.

By contrast, people from those backgrounds account for more than 18 per cent of the region's population.

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Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said the force had "issues" attracting recruits from ethnic minorities.

Speaking at a Police and Crime Panel meeting on Friday, Mr Burns-Williamson said: "There are still very real issues in terms of being able to attract, recruit and keep hold of people from those backgrounds.

"The only real way we can make progress in this regard is for government to consider legislative changes, to enable some of that to occur.

"I know some people might not agree with me on that, and might not support me on that, but I believe that legislation will be the only way change will come about over a long period of time."

Mr Burns-Williamson also described the government's response to concerns raised about how the police are funded as "typical".

The Police and Crime Panel, which holds the PCC to account, had penned an open letter criticising how forces are now being funded through annual lump sum settlements, instead of a more "sustainable" model which covers a longer period of time.

In response, policing minister Nick Hurd defended the government's policy and said it was right that decisions about tax rises to fund extra officers were made locally.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "The latest news I have is that it's still very unclear if they will move to a three year funding settlement, or keep it is as it is.

"Sadly, like everything else at the moment, Brexit is being used as an excuse to not make a decision."