The Met’s Commissioner has admitted her force is “not free of discrimination, racism or bias”, and pledged that 40 per cent of all new recruits will come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds by 2022.
In September, we reported how Camberwell and Peckham MP Harriet Harman had criticised Southwark and Lambeth Police’s leadership for an ‘inexplicable’ inability to provide borough-level data on the exact number of black police officers, by rank, along with figures on public polling.
More than 60 per cent of people living in Southwark are from black or other minority backgrounds. Harman says one primary school teacher from Peckham told her that by the end of primary school, pupils are already losing faith in the Met.
Last week the Met published details of a new agreement on diversity targets and training over the next two years. It is the result of negotiations between the Metropolitan Police Service and City Hall, and comes after this year’s wave of protests after the death of George Floyd in the USA, and increased scrutiny into stop and search.
In its new ‘action plan’ the Met announced that from this month it was reimposing the London residency requirement for most of its new jobs in the force, with the aim of encouraging more people from the capital’s own communities to sign up.
According to the Met, its workforce currently includes 2,000 Special Constables, just under a third of whom are from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. It is also focusing on supporting officers from minority backgrounds with career progression.
City Hall is also allocating £1m per year towards officer training to help recruits understand different communities and cultures, complete unconscious bias training, and learn the history of the areas where they will be working.
More training in stop and search is also planned and community monitoring groups will also once again have access to body worn videos.
Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “I want the Met to be the most trusted police service in the world.
“We have made a lot of progress over many years, but there is much more to be done.
“I have been committed to this work throughout my service as a police officer and that commitment is as strong as ever.
“I recognise trust in the Met is still too low in some black communities, as is their trust in many other institutions.
“I feel very sorry about that. It is something I have worked to change and I commit now to stepping up that work further.
“My top two operational priorities are reducing violence and increasing public confidence in the Met, particularly the confidence of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.
“Actions are more important than words and, as I have said before, we can do more and we will.
“The Met is not free of discrimination, racism or bias. I have always acknowledged that and do now again. In the Met we have zero tolerance of racism.
“My job is to continue to try to eliminate any such racism and discrimination, however it appears.
“I am committed to redoubling our efforts to deliver a better service for, and with, black Londoners, to doing all we can to help them be safe, and to increase their trust in us.
“The Met already has so many brilliant black officers and staff, enjoying and contributing to a wide variety of roles.
“I want to increase their numbers and ensure that they all really thrive, together with all our colleagues, in a healthy and inclusive workplace.
“I am sure that will be good for all Londoners and it will help us achieve our mission of making the Met the most trusted police service in the world. We have a lot more to do, and I am excited about leading further change.”