28/01/2004

Race equality action plan launched by chief police officers

An action plan aimed at helping police forces employ, retain and promote more minority ethnic officers to make the service "more representative of the communities it serves", has been launched today by the Home Office, ACPO and the APA.

The 'Breaking Through' plan, produced by the Lawrence Steering Group, offers a framework for all forces to examine performance and identify barriers to the promotion of equality.

The number of minority ethnic officers has increased by 53% from 2,545 to 3,915 between 1999 and 2003. The proportion of minority ethnic officers was 2.9% at March 2003 - the 2002 milestone target was 3%, the government said.

Speaking at the 'Dismantling Barriers' conference in London, Home Office Minister Hazel Blears, said that a representative workforce, which had the trust and confidence of the communities it serves, was "vital" if the police were to tackle crime effectively.

She added: "The service has come a long way, but there is more to be done. Representation of both women and minority ethnic people in senior and middle ranks are a concern, and recent events have shown that racism remains a problem in some parts of the service.

"I expect members of the police service and police authorities to continue to focus on and deliver real actions that will increase the recruitment, retention and progression of women and minority ethnic staff. We are determined to ensure that those officers are able to climb the ranks with the same success as their colleagues. This action plan will help them achieve that."

Dr Ruth Henig, Chairman of the Association of Police Authorities, the initiative provided a "blueprint to move forward" in achieving the goals.

"We must seize this opportunity to transform the police service into a first class employer: one which can attract, keep and promote the brightest, most talented people from all our diverse communities. Because we need them if we are going to provide the quality of policing which all our communities rightly expect and deserve," she said.

The government has also recently re-launched its 'Could You?' campaign to target women and minority ethnic communities.

(gmcg)

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