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Our police should look like our community

Luton’s Liberal Democrats hit out this week at the lack of diversity of Bedfordshire Police.

Councillor Qurban Hussain, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Luton South, is calling for more action following evidence that the Police are still failing to recruit adequate Black and Asian officers, and that confidence and satisfaction with the Police among the County’s minority ethnic communities continues to be lower than among residents generally.

The Liberal Democrats questioned Police Authority spokesperson Cllr Mohammad Farooq on the issue at a Council meeting last night. They pointed out that recent official figures show that:

  • Only 6% of Bedfordshire Police officers are drawn from minority ethnic communities ? well under the level of representation in the community in Luton or across the County

  • Despite being set a target to recruit nearly 15% of the Police intake from Black or Asian applicants this year, the Police managed a figure of only 3% from April to June – reducing the proportion of black and minority ethnic officers still further

  • Satisfaction among victims of crimes with the Police’s response was 11% lower among minority ethnic victims of crime than among victims generally

  • The proportion of victims of racially motivated crime who were satisfied with the Police’s response to incidents dropped steadily to a 3-year low in April, with over a third dissatisfied.

Cllr Qurban Hussain commented: “I know some initiatives are in place to encourage more Black and Asian applicants to the Police but given their record so far this year I must ask if they’ve got the strategy right.”

“There seems to be a clear link between satisfaction with the Police among certain communities, and the perception of residents from those communities that the Police don’t reflect them or their way of life.”

“Nobody questions that white officers can perform as well as Black or Asian officers, or that all Police should respond in a similar way to both routine enquiries and the more pressurised situations they sometimes face. But the Police’s own figures show a serious confidence gap in some communities that must be tackled.”

Cllr Andy Strange, who asked the question during the Council meeting, commented: “It is important for public confidence that the police look like the community they serve. Recruiting only 3 per cent of officers from non-white backgrounds so far this year, when they are meant to be increasing diversity, is far from satisfactory.”

“That is why at the meeting I wanted to question Councillor Farooq to make sure that he understood the seriousness of the situation. Luton Liberal Democrats will continue to press the Police Authority to take action.”

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