Applications to join Bedfordshire Police Special Constabulary and Police Cadets from people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds have jumped by a third in the past year.
People from these backgrounds have traditionally joined the police in very small numbers, and addressing this was a key recommendation of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry in 1999.
Police and crime Commissioner Olly Martins said: “I am pleased to see that my work on this front is starting to pay dividends but I am not at all complacent about the challenge of improving the diversity of our police. Willing applicants need to become successful recruits who then need to be retained and progress through the organisation.
“This is a long term task and I believe the way forward, if we are to ensure that we have a truly representative police force in Bedfordshire, is to provide appropriate support at recruitment and subsequently.”
The Commissioner continued: “Our force needs people with the skills and experience to fight crime and protect the public. The workforce has to reflect our communities’ diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender and other characteristics in order to do this properly.”
Currently, about one in 20 officers and staff are from BME backgrounds, compared to an estimated quarter of working age residents in Bedfordshire.
In 2011/12 and for most of 2012/13, police cadet applicants from BME backgrounds amounted to 12-13%. But since December those numbers have risen to 18%. Similarly, applications to join the Special Constables were 12% BME for most of 2012/13, but 19% in the six months after the Commissioner’s election.