Chris Marshall: Police should reflect communities

Figures show around one per cent of officers in Police Scotland come from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Figures show around one per cent of officers in Police Scotland come from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Share this article
2
Have your say

While Scotland’s ethnic minority population sits at around four per cent of the country as a whole, the figure is considerably higher in cities.

Around one in eight Glaswegians comes from a minority background, while the figure in Aberdeen and Edinburgh is close to one in 12.

Despite this, the representation of black and Asian people in some walks of life remains worryingly low.

Figures released last week show only around one per cent of officers in Police Scotland come from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.

According to figures obtained under Freedom of Information legislation, there are just 175 ethnic minority officers in the force of more than 17,000.

There are no ethnic minority officers in the force’s top ranks and only one superintendent and one chief inspector among 446 of the most senior officers.

The figures also showed that there are no black or Asian staff in the top five grades, and only 69 out of 5,963 staff overall.

The Lib Dems, who obtained the figures, described the situation as “appalling”.

However, Police Scotland is just one of many forces across the UK in a similar position.

While the non-white population of England and Wales makes up around 14 per cent of the total, the most recent figures from the Home Office show that just over five per cent of officers are from ethnic minorities.

That figure, however, is boosted by relatively high representation in forces such as the Metropolitan Police (11 per cent) and West Midlands (8.4 per cent).

Elsewhere the picture is similar to Scotland, with forces such as Dyfed-Powys, North Wales and North Yorkshire all under the one per cent mark.

Ethnic minority representation is not just an issue for the police, but a problem across public life. The media is no exception in that regard.

But Police Scotland needs to be seen to reflect the communities it represents.

To be fair, the situation is improving across the UK, albeit at a glacial pace.

A worry, however, is that the Scottish Police Federation, which represents 99 per cent of the country’s police officers, thinks its ethnic minority members were better served under the old regional structure, prior to the introduction of the national force in 2013.

In a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s equal opportunities committee, the SPF said Police Scotland was merely paying “lip service” on the issue, an accusation that the force disputes.

Whatever the reality, more needs to be done to stop the Thin Blue Line being so uniformly white.

Back to the top of the page