BAME recruitment to 'change the face' of West Midlands Police

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Police recruitsImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
David Jamieson said the force had an opportunity to "change the face" of West Midlands Police

Recruitment targeted at people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background could "change the face" of West Midlands Police, bosses said.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said 1,000 BAME officers will be recruited over the next three years.

He said the force, currently 11% BAME, should reflect an area where about 30% of people are BAME.

Recent anti-racism demonstrations highlighted issues between police in the UK and ethnic minorities.

Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside the West Midlands Police headquarters in Birmingham last week and the force itself is being investigated over a number of complaints relating to excessive force against black men.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Demonstrators marched on Lloyd House, the forces' headquarters, demanding an end to police brutality

"A variety of issues have brought people onto the streets over recent weeks, but equality and fairness is at the core," the Labour commissioner said.

"There is no simple solution, but what will make a bigger difference than anything else is ensuring that our force looks much more like the communities it serves."

Asked why, after nearly six years in office, Mr Jamieson had chosen this moment to make this commitment, he said cuts to policing had prohibited large-scale recruitment.

Now, with funding for 20,000 police officers from the Home Office, he said "we've got a much better opportunity to make real change".

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The prime minster and Home Secretary Priti Patel visited Birmingham in July 2019 after announcing the recruitment drive

Karen Geddes, chair of West Midlands Police's Black and Asian Federation said it was a positive statement.

"It's a good number to put out there, I'd like to see the how. How is he going to do that, what is the strategy behind this, what are we going to do if we don't achieve it?"

West Midlands Police is England's second biggest force with 6,495 officers.

The 1,000 new BAME officers will be among 2,750 recruits which, after replacing those leaving the force, will mean 1,200 new police officers.

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