Hampshire police recruit 3 black officers in 12 months as 445 people join force in 12 months
JUST three black people have been recruited among nearly 450 new police officers in Hampshire.
Police bosses have taken on 445 recruits in 12 months as part of a Home Office-funded uplift after years of budget cuts.
But figures seen by The News show there are just 10 black officers in the force as of March this year with the three recruits – even after the force spent £20,000 on diversity recruitment adverts.
Six Asian officers have been recruited along with seven people who identify as having a mixed ethnicity – alongside 420 white colleagues.
Home Office figures show as of March this year the force has 2,916 white officers, 40 Asian, and 39 who have a mixed ethnicity.
Senior police previously told The News the major recruitment programme was an opportunity to bring in more black, Asian and minority ethnic officers in the hope they would become future leaders.
As reported, the force spent thousands on recruitment adverts using actors in a bid to increase BAME representation.
Midia Medina, from Portsmouth’s Black Lives Matter – a group set up as part of a global response to an American police officer murdering a black man – said: ‘I think the current number speaks volumes of the changes that need to happen within the police force.
‘I do believe that until reforms are made they might not get that much interest from BAME members to become part of the force which for some people equals to becoming part of the problem.’
But she added: ‘I think it would be great to see more representation within the police force.
‘I do think they need to look at how they advertise these jobs, where they advertise and how inclusive they are being.
‘It's all well and good to tick a number on a form to say oh we've got this many BAME members in our force, but will their voices be heard? Will they be treated equally? Will they be “segregated” to areas where there’s predominantly BAME communities?
Hampshire’s assistant chief constable Lucy Huston said measures have been put in place in the hope of better diversity in recruitment in the remaining years of uplift recruitment.
Some 12-16 per cent of applicants have been from BAME backgrounds and this is a good sign, she said.
Ms Huston said there were now 97 BAME officers in the force with this rising to 173 when taking staff into account - but she added: ‘We still have much to do.’
She said: ‘We are determined that the constabulary truly reflects the communities we serve.
‘We are committed to doing everything that we can to increase our diversity.
‘The measures we put in place in year one mean we expect to see a greater improvement in years two and three and beyond as creating the kind of change we want is a long term project.
‘In year one we already had a high number of applicants in the system prior to changing our approach which impacted our ability to make the changes quickly.
‘Our aspirations is to have a workforce that reflects our diverse communities.’
Around a third of serving officers are women, and the force has recruited 187 women in 12 months.
There are ‘high female application rates for our degree holder and detective roles’, the senior officer said.
The recruitment figures come as Unison the trade union for police staff hit out at government cuts since 2010 that have seen numbers slashed.
Unison south east regional organiser James Smith said: ‘In Hampshire these cuts have been profound and have severely hampered the ability of the force to combat serious and violent crime.
‘Adding new police officers alone is not the answer; officers are just one part of the policing team.
‘Recruiting and training new police staff is also essential to fight crime and keep communities safe.’
In March 2010 there were 3,748 police officers in Hampshire but this has now reduced - including the latest recruitment - to 2,957.
PCSO numbers have dropped from 347 to 235, while civilian staff numbers have dwindled to 1,992 from 2,271.
Overall headcount in the force between 2010 and March this year dropped by 18.8 per cent - from 6,366 to 5,184.
At one point the force said its ‘lowing resourcing point’ was 4,663 people in the workforce.
Ms Huston added: ‘For the first time in a decade police numbers are now growing by 232 since the September 2020 Home Office data was published. Unlike some other forces, we have also managed to protect key police staff roles including PCSOs in the most recent years.
‘The contribution of our police staff is invaluable and we would like to thank every one of them.
‘Every indication is that increased investment into policing will continue. We welcome this as it enables us to do even more to keep the public safe.’