BAME officers recruitment to South Yorkshire Police ‘stubbornly slow’

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Recruitment of black, Asian and minority ethnic officers to South Yorkshire Police has been ‘stubbornly slow’ over the past few years, a police accountability meeting heard.

The force recruited just one BAME officer between January and March this year.

Fewer than 5 per cent of officers are BAME and fewer than 4 per cent are classed as having a visible minority ethic background.

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Deputy chief constable Mark Roberts said recruitment of BAME officers was a ‘stubborn issue’ with ‘no simple answers’, but the force was committed to attracting a more diverse workforce.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan BillingsPolice and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings
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He spoke at a meeting of the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner public accountability board in the wake of the killing of black US citizen George Floyd by a white officer which has sparked global protests against racism and police brutality, including peaceful demonstrations in Sheffield and Doncaster.

Mr Roberts said: “We’re alive to making sure there are no barriers to people from various backgrounds.

“We try to target a range of communities to ensure they can see the benefits of a career with the police and we want people to come and join us and we’re trying to make ourselves the most appealing employer possible.

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“We do speak to other forces on this issue and try and incorporate those lessons - I don’t think we’re shy about bringing (change) and we constantly review the recruitment process but it is a stubborn issue … and there is no simple answer to it.

“We are an employer of choice as identified by diversity groups which is a positive for us and we need to reassure people that if they come and work for us then whatever background they are from they will have a great career with us.”

The SYPCC independent ethics panel has previously raised concerns about the recruitment of BAME officers and representation at the rank of sergeant.

But the panel were reassured by comments from Chief Constable Stephen Watson who said a new ‘outreach officer’ had been appointed.

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Andrew Longley, panel chairman, said recruitment had been ‘stubbornly low’ for the past ‘five or six years’, but welcomed the ongoing work.

The meeting heard employment of female officers stands at an ‘all-time high’.

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