LEADER COM­MENT

Sunday Herald - - NEWS -

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.

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