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Police Forces

Volume 618: debated on Monday 5 December 2016

We have reformed policing to ensure that there is a sector-led approach to improving representation. We established the College of Policing as the professional body which is delivering a major programme of work called BME Progression 2018. Alongside this, innovative schemes such as Direct Entry, Fast Track and Police Now are making the police workforce more diverse than ever before.

Does my hon. Friend agree that even though a lot of work has been done, some forces have a long, long way to go to make that quota better?

My hon. Friend makes a good point. The police have done a great deal of work on diversity generally, particularly seeing more women coming in, but there is more to do in relation to black and minority ethnic communities and women generally across the force. I hope that forces right across the country will be very focused on this as they go through their recruitment exercises now.

18. It is difficult for any police force to represent the community it serves, given that cuts to police funding mean that we have lost over 19,000 police officers since 2010. Will the Minister look again, following the bungling of the police funding formula, to make sure that forces such as Northumbria get the fair funding deal that my constituents need and deserve? (907632)

Police forces across the country are currently recruiting. The police funding formula has always been protected. We are doing a formula review. I will be meeting the police and crime commissioner and the chief constable of Northumberland shortly to discuss that and feed it into the review. The force there has benefited over the past couple of years from the ability to increase precepts above most others due to de minimis.

All police officers deserve our praise, but volunteer special constables who serve on foot in the local areas in which they live represent their local communities particularly well. Will the Minister congratulate Northamptonshire on the efforts that it is making to recruit more volunteer special constables?

I am happy to endorse my hon. Friend’s comments. The volunteers in the police force, who we are looking to empower even further through the Policing and Crime Bill, do a fantastic job and deserve our great thanks.

How long, how long? I do not normally believe in quotas, but really diverse police forces have been a long time coming in this country, so let us see some action. Let us see some action, too, on recruiting more officers to police the roads in our country, where people drive like lunatics because they know that there is no one there to catch them.

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has joined our cause after so many years of seeing diversity going nowhere under the Labour Government. It is this Government who have driven diversity by trusting local police forces to make sure that when they recruit, they recruit to represent their communities. That is why we are seeing BME representation going up and representation of women going up. We need to do more and I hope the hon. Gentleman will join us in encouraging forces to do that in their current recruitment.

Is the Minister aware that a more diverse police force has been an aim of forces such as the Metropolitan police since the 1970s? Is he aware that the underlying reason why there has been limited success is, sadly, continuing poor police-community relations? And is he aware that funding cuts are restricting the recruitment of officers, whatever their colour or gender?

The hon. Lady may like to note that this year, as I said earlier, the Government put protection in for police funding in the settlement, so police are benefiting from that protection. Police forces across the country are recruiting. In fact, the Met is one of the exemplars for how to get a diverse workforce; Police Now was literally the first visit I made in this role. The latest recruitment has seen increases to 25% in respect of women. That is good, but we need to go further and I am glad that the hon. Lady wants to join us in seeing that develop.