POLICING: Only 1% of top policing jobs held by people from BAME backgrounds

Dame Eilish Angiolini, former Lord Advocate, right, leaving an event in Edinburgh.

By Bill Heaney

Discrimination is widespread when it comes to people from minority communities applying for a job with Police Scotland, according to distinguished Court of Session judge Dame Eilish Angiolini.

Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, Dame Eilish Angiolini said:  “I felt extraordinarily depressed for many days after listening to the witnesses’ evidence. It came as a shock to me just as much as it has to everyone else.

“However, such behaviour is present, and it affects not just those from minority communities but women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, all of whom are still subject to inappropriate quips or treatment as a result of who they are.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP, pictured left,  has urged Police Scotland to “look closely” at new data which shows that only 1% of police officers ranking sergeant or above identified as BAME and consider why the top tiers of policing “aren’t nearly as diverse as the public it serves”.

Freedom of information requests by the Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed top tier positions including Sergeant, Inspector, Chief Inspector, Superintendent, Chief Superintendent, Assistant Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Chief Constable were only held by 44 people of BAME backgrounds – equating to 1% of those in high-ranking positions.

The pattern was repeated throughout the force, with people from BAME backgrounds making up only 1% of constables, holding 209 positions.

Scotland’s 2011 census recorded that 4% of the population identified as being part of minority ethnic groups.

Liam 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.

A black police officer on duty at an Orange Walk in Dumbarton. Picture by Bill Heaney

“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.”

Meanwhile, The final report in the Independent Review of Complaints Handling, Investigations and Misconduct Issues in relation to Policing heard that:

  • “attitudes have not changed as much as they should have” since the Macpherson report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.
  • “the experiences of some recruits had caused them to leave the profession, often within three to five years.”
  • “ethnic minority officers were leaving because of the culture of the police and the way they were treated.”
  • “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.”

Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, Dame Angiolini said:  “I felt extraordinarily depressed for many days after listening to the witnesses’ evidence. It came as a shock to me just as much as it has to everyone else.

“However, such behaviour is present, and it affects not just those from minority communities but women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, all of whom are still subject to inappropriate quips or treatment as a result of who they are.”

3 comments

  1. Liked the picture of the Black Order Ed. Are we really saying, or suggesting that we’re not selecting enough for the Orange and or Black ethnic minorities.

    Black police officer – black order marchers. Interesting photograph.

  2. Thanks Willie. Why on earth would the police select black officers for this work when they know that the Orangemen are not too fond for being friendly with people from that community?

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