Police, military and courts lagging decades behind on ethnic diversity

Some of the groups wielding the most power in British society, such as the police, the judiciary and the military, are decades away from becoming as ethnically diverse as the population they serve, Guardian analysis has found.

Projections of the progress that key public services are making in eliminating racial bias suggest it will take the police in England and Wales until 2052 before the ranks are reflective of the makeup of today’s population, by which point the minority population is forecast to have grown even further.

The proportion of the population of England and Wales who are from minority ethnic backgrounds stood at 14.9% in 2016 and is expected to rise to at least 20% by 2050.

However, if increases in the proportion of officers from minorities continue at the same rate as in the past decade, it will take 34 years before the police reach equivalence to today’s population.

Change in the upper ranks will take substantially longer, most notably at the chief officer and chief inspector levels, which had diversity levels of 2.6% and 3.4% respectively as of March 2018.

Tola Munro, president of the National Black Police Association, said the findings showed that while progress had been made, there was still resistance to change. “Race discrimination, disparities and a lack of representation throughout the service show that the culture of policing has not changed for black, Asian and mixed-race people,” he said. “Ultimately there was a lack of will from an older group of chief constables.”

Policing is emerging as a focal point of the racial faultlines in Britain. In 1999 when the Macpherson report identified institutional racism as having helped the killers of Stephen Lawrence to escape justice, police chiefs agreed they needed to act to ensure their forces better represented the broader population.


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