Call for Police Scotland to increase diversity in top ranks

Only 1 per cent of top officers in Police Scotland are black, Asian or from an ethnic minority (BAME), according to new research from the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who have called on the force to increase its diversity.

Police Scotland has been urged to increase its diversity as figures show a lack of BAME officers.

Freedom of Information data shows that only 44 officers in Police Scotland hold the rank of Sergeant and above, equating to 1 per cent of those in positions of seniority.

The statistics also found the pattern was repeated throughout the force, with people from BAME backgrounds making up only 1 per cent of constables, holding 209 positions. Police Scotland employs a total of 17,693 officers.

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Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur urged the force to “look closely” at the figures and consider why the top tiers of policing “aren't nearly as diverse as the public it serves”.

Scotland's 2011 census recorded that 4 per cent of the population identified as being part of minority ethnic groups.

Mr McArthur said: “People from BAME backgrounds are woefully underrepresented in Police Scotland, at every level. That’s a problem for a whole host of reasons, not least fairness and representation. It also creates a barrier between the police and the communities they work in.

“Sadly, the recent Independent Review of Police Complaints showed that racism within these ranks is not yet a thing of the past. Dame Angiolini found evidence of a canteen culture stuck in the same rut recorded by the Macpherson report 20 years ago. She said accounts from officers and staff left her feeling ‘extraordinarily depressed’.

“The Black Lives Matter movement forced us all to face uncomfortable truths about society and its attitudes. The purpose is to find a better way forward, and every institution has a responsibility to help make that happen.

“Increasing diversity now would strengthen the police's ability to engage with communities, and would pave the way for a new generation of talented individuals for the future.

"Police Scotland needs to look closely at these numbers and consider why the top tier of policing isn't nearly as diverse as the public it serves.”

In her report for the Independent Review of Complaints Handling, Investigations and Misconduct Issues in relation to Policing, Dame Elish Angiolini reported that “attitudes have not changed as much as they should have”, that “ethnic minority officers were leaving because of the culture of the police and the way they were treated" and it was "easier for a person from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background to become a doctor than to become a sergeant in the police”.

Responding to the statistics, Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: "We are committed to relentlessly improving how we reflect, represent and engage with our communities, and recognise the need to increase recruitment from under-represented groups across all ranks and grades in Police Scotland.

"A dedicated team to increase the diversity of candidates applying to Police Scotland, including from BME backgrounds, was established in 2017.

“Racism and discrimination of any kind is deplorable and unacceptable. It has no place in society and no place in policing. It is therefore crucial that the culture of Police Scotland is welcoming and inclusive to all and that we support all our people to thrive and flourish in what is an extremely demanding job."

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