It is for forces to determine their own recruitment arrangements: this is a matter for the commissioner and Mayor’s office for policing and crime in London. However, the Home Office is working with the College of Policing to improve both the standards of new recruits and the training available to them. We also support the Met’s ambitions to promote positive action to create a more diverse work force, including through direct entry.
I am very interested by the Minister’s response, because in Lewisham just 7% of our police officers come from black and ethnic minority communities, yet nearly half our population identifies as such. Can he tell me when he proposes to introduce legislation to change the law to allow the Met proactively to recruit one black officer for every white officer taken on?
The hon. Lady is referring, I assume, to the Northern Ireland example, where I know that that kind of recruitment was done. I would point out that although she and I share the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s desire to make the Metropolitan police force reflect better the community it serves across London, the situation is more complicated and variegated in London: London is a city of very many communities, not two. However, we are encouraging the Metropolitan police, working with it and the College of Policing, to use the parts of the Equality Act 2010 that allow a degree of flexibility to use mentoring and the language provisions that might be necessary for certain skills and to allow them to use the tipping point provisions if they have two candidates of equal merit to choose one from an under-represented community, so that they can achieve the commissioner’s ambition of making the force more representative.