Here's how few black police officers work in Lancashire

Black people in Lancashire are underrepresented in the county's police force, new figures reveal.

By Mike Hill
Friday, 7th August 2020, 7:00 am
Home Office data shows there were just three black officers in Lancashire Constabulary at the end of March
Home Office data shows there were just three black officers in Lancashire Constabulary at the end of March

The National Black Police Association says disproportionate use of police powers on black people in England and Wales means fewer members of the community are attracted to policing as a career.

Home Office data shows there were just three black officers in Lancashire Constabulary at the end of March – a rate of 1.0 per 1,000 officers whose ethnicity was recorded.

But a recent analysis by the Government Statistical Service shows that 4.1 per 1,000 people in the local area are black – nearly four times the rate in the police workforce.

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Rates were calculated using police force area population estimates from mid-2016 – the latest year with an ethnicity breakdown.

Across all police forces in England and Wales, 12.6 per 1,000 officers were black, while the figure for the population stood at 33.7.

Andy George, president of the National Black Police Association, said police forces have been too slow and inconsistent in addressing a lack of diversity in their ranks.

He said: “Black communities are facing the most disproportionate use of police powers, particularly stop and search and use of force.

“This will inevitably lead to fewer members of the community seeing policing as a viable career.”

Mr George said the Government’s pledge to recruit 20,000 extra officers by 2023 offered a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to make police forces reflective of the communities they serve.

He added: “The National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Government need to be bolder in their approach to this and advocate for a short period of positive discrimination during the uplift.”

The death of American George Floyd while in police custody on May 25 sparked protests across the world, including in many UK towns and cities.

It has reignited debates over racism, and the relationship between the police and black communities.

A report released earlier this year by the Police Foundation think tank said increasing levels of diversity in police forces since 2007 had mainly been driven by the recruitment of Asian and mixed ethnicity officers, while black representation had “barely increased”.

In Lancashire, there were 136 officers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in March, one fewer than a year earlier.

This still underrepresents the community – the figure accounts for 47.5 per 1,000 officers while BAME people make up 85.4 in 1,000 of the population – but the disparity is greater for black people specifically.

Across all 43 police forces, BAME officers accounted for 73.0 in 1,000 officers who stated their ethnicity, an increase from 69.4 the previous year and 46.2 in 2010.

But the Home Office said this still “considerably underrepresents” those communities – BAME people make up 145.2 per 1,000 of England and Wales's population, according to mid-2016 estimates.

Mr George said grouping entire communities together under the umbrella term BAME leads to police forces not understanding the unique needs of individual communities and their trust in the police.

Ian Hopkins, the NPCC's lead for diversity, equality and inclusion, said: "The slower rate of progress in recruiting black police officers is likely to reflect the fact that confidence in police has historically been lower among black people than white or Asian."

But he added that the drive to recruit 20,000 new officers was a "generational opportunity" to address this.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The Government wants to see people from all backgrounds joining the police, with police forces that are representative of the community they serve.

“That’s why the Home Secretary has today written to police chiefs to urge them to grasp the opportunity the recruitment of 20,000 additional officers presents when it comes to diversifying the police.

“The Home Secretary has also discussed this issue with police leaders via the National Policing Board and is clear that she wants officers from all backgrounds to be able to progress up the ranks.”