Labour in police diversity plea

This Is Local London: Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has called for greater diversity in the police. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has called for greater diversity in the police.

Police chiefs should be consulted over changing the law to allow greater positive discrimination to boost the number of black and Asian officers in their forces, Labour has said.

The party would also make forces, including the Metropolitan Police, follow in the footsteps of the New York Police Department by setting "active" recruitment policies to increase diversity, which could include creating teams of black and minority ethnic (BME) recruiters to target particular communities.

It comes after heightened tensions in parts of London when a jury last week concluded that Mark Duggan, whose death sparked riots across the country in 2011, was lawfully killed by police.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the Government must take action because progress in making forces more representative of the areas they police has stalled.

Around 5% of police officers in England and Wales are from an ethnic minority background compared to around 14% of the population, according to Labour.

Ms Cooper said: "The police need to reflect the communities they work in. But progress has stalled. The police themselves are calling for change. It's time for Government action to make it happen.

"As the Metropolitan Police have said following the Mark Duggan case, work needs to be done to build community confidence in policing, particularly in ethnic minority communities.

"That means we need to go back to neighbourhood policing - so that communities get to know and trust individual officers, and the police really know their communities. And we need reforms to stop and search.

"But it also means we need much more diversity in the police too - especially in our big cities.

"Although progress has been made in the last 10 years, it hasn't gone far enough - and more recently it has stalled. Ministers don't even seem to be interested - The ministerial group hasn't even met since the election.

"Policing by consent depends on trust between the police and every community. Senior police officers have made clear they can't do the best job policing each community if they don't also reflect, understand and enjoy the confidence of every community.

"The police and politicians have talked about recruiting more ethnic minority officers for a long time, but progress has stalled. Its time for much more determined action and a step change in reform."

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