Leicestershire Police should use ‘Positive Action’ legislation to ensure its workforce reflects the community it serves and increase the number of black and minority ethnic officers and other under-represented groups.
That is the opinion of an independent ethics committee set up by the Police and Crime Commissioner to scrutinise the force’s behaviour, standards and integrity.
The force asked the committee for its view on using Section 159 of the Equality Act to increase its workforce diversity. Positive Action doesn’t mean people will be employed or promoted simply because they share a protected characteristic, but it does aim to encourage and assist people from disproportionately under-represented groups in order to help overcome any disadvantages they experience.
Using Section 159 means employers, choosing between two candidates of equal merit, can legally select the one from an under represented group. It is something Leicestershire Police has never used before, though it does regularly use other parts of the Equality Act to encourage under-represented groups to apply for posts, promotion and other openings.
The force is set to open recruitment for new police officers later in the autumn and the ethics committee, chaired by Professor Cillian Ryan, economist and Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) & Head of College of Business, Law and Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University, was unanimous in agreeing positive action should be used when appropriate.
Prof Ryan said: “The committee believes there is an important message in having a police force which represents the communities it serves.”
There was also praise for the force’s efforts in creating a culture where officers and staff can report wrongdoing or other misdemeanours by their colleagues. Leicestershire has a confidential reporting procedure which people can use anonymously, along with a whistle blowing procedure that aims to protect staff from victimisation and reprisal should they raise public interest concerns. The committee heard of the force’s plans to amalgamate the two policies and align them to the Police Code of Ethics.
Committee member Dr Mark Peel said it was apparent that staff had real trust and confidence in the process which was evident from the number of people coming forward to raise issues without wanting to remain anonymous.
A number of other issues were debated, including the force’s gifts and gratuities policies in which officers and staff must declare gifts or hospitality given or offered. Having seen a full list of all gifts, primarily small gestures of thanks from grateful citizens, given to Leicestershire Police personnel, and the Police and Crime Commissioner and his staff, the committee felt that the acceptance of gifts was not being misinterpreted or abused.
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Posted on Tuesday 4th October 2016