POLICE forces, like all major institutions, must reflect the diversity of the citizens they serve.
However, Police Scotland appears to be failing on this front with black and minority ethnic communities.
According to 2016 data, only one per cent of police have a BME background. By contrast, the 2011 census estimated that four per cent of Scotland’s population was from a “minority ethnic” group. The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) has defined the low levels of BME staff in Police Scotland as an example of institutional racism.
The CRER also says this phrase applies to retention levels of BME staff and the way in which racist complaints are dealt with by police.
According to the CRER, the “problem of institutional racism” within the force has to be “named and acknowledged” before it can be addressed. Police Scotland, to its credit, says that all officers undertake compulsory diversity and equality training and insists the force has a “good working relationship” with the CRER. Over the last few months, Police Scotland has also staged a series of new BME engagement initiatives with potential recruits.
However, for a force that has been marked by poor leadership and weak financial stewardship, an allegation of “institutional racism” is another serious blow. Quotas can be a blunt tool, but perhaps some form of positive discrimination must now be considered. As a matter of urgency, Police Scotland must now lay out measures to become more diverse and address the points raised.