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Thames Valley Police responds to "not diverse enough" claims

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Freedom of Information request reveals just five per cent of the force not white

ONLY five per cent of Thames Valley Police officers, staff and Pcsos are classed as ‘not white’, despite the force stating that ethnic diversity is essential to their work in local communities.

Figures obtained by the Newbury Weekly News from a Freedom of Information request reveal that across 21 departments, 93 per cent of the workforce is identified as ‘white’.

The 93 per cent equates to 5,944 people out of a workforce of 6,403 and is in stark contrast to the 137 ‘Asian’, 58 ‘black’, 117 ‘mixed’ and 29 ‘other’ staff, officers and Pcsos.

There is even less ethnic diversity from within the local policing areas (frontline police officers, staff and Pcsos), where less than one per cent is identified as black and only two per cent Asian.

Last month, Home Secretary Theresa May called the lack of diversity in police forces across the country as “simply not good enough” at a National Black Police Association conference in Birmingham.

Commenting on the local picture, Waheeda Soomro, of the West Berkshire ethnic minority group All2Gether, said: “Diversity of workforce is essential, especially when working with the public, this is how we harness cohesion in communities.

“The most important aspect of recruitment is to ensure that the right people are employed to keep our communities safe, part of this is to ensure there are no barriers preventing people from all backgrounds coming forward to work in the police force.

“Perceptions hold a lot of weight, if black or Asian children grow up only ever seeing white police officers, what aspirations or expectations would those children have of joining the police force?

“Even in a majority white neighbourhood, if the only interaction they have with a person of colour is with the local police officer, that in itself would have a hugely significant and far reaching positive impact.”

Thames Valley Police’s own policy on equal opportunity recruitment states that diversity is “essential” in good police work within local communities.

The policy document states: “TVP believes that having a diverse workforce broadly representative of the community as a whole, provides the best opportunity for offering an effective and accessible police service which is valued by the whole community.

“Diversity ensures that Thames Valley Police engages people from different backgrounds with many different skills, outlooks and aptitudes to contribute to a truly effective and representative organisation.”

In response to the figures, a TVP statement said: “Thames Valley Police are committed to building a diverse workforce which more closely reflects the communities we serve, with a focus on black and minority ethnic (BME) representation.

“We believe this is important in order to improve confidence and trust in the service provided by Thames Valley Police through effective community engagement.

“We have developed an Attraction and Progression Strategy, which focuses on positive action initiatives such as our community Ambassador Programme, which includes members of the Asian and black community, revised employer branding and digital marketing, community engagement events, mentoring for BME applicants and sponsorship funding for the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing qualification.

“In terms of progression and retention, we work closely with our staff support networks to ensure that under-represented staff have a voice at the Force Diversity Board, which is chaired by the Chief Constable, Francis Habgood, and that BME staff have access to coaching, career development workshops and a specific BME talent management programme.

“We are committed to promoting Thames Valley Police as an ‘Employer of Choice’ and continue to work closely with the College of Policing to demonstrate policing as a professional and credible career path for members of all communities.”

A small number of departments were exempted from the data release, such as Special Operations and counter terrorist operations, on national security grounds.

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