The police must make more use of equality laws to increase the number of black and ethnic minority officers serving, the Police Minister Damian Green has said.
Police minister Damian Green urges senior officers to push for more diversity.
He said while the service had come a long way since the Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, black and ethnic minority officers still only accounted for around five per cent of the total workforce.
Speaking at the annual Police Superintendentsâ€™ Conference, the minister said more needed to be done, telling delegates: â€œIt is not something that just fits into the category of â€˜nice if you can do itâ€™. It is essential to the way you do your job.â€
Mr Green urged Constabularies to use existing legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010, to improve numbers.
He said: â€œMore can and should be done within existing legislation. Police legal departments are naturally risk averse when it comes to diversity, they shouldnâ€™t be.
â€œIt is unlawful to have recruitment quotas based solely on race or gender, but recruitment quotas are not the only means to achieving diversity.â€
Under positive action provisions contained in the 2010 Equality Act, employers are allowed to choose a candidate from a group that is under-represented, where they are of the same standard as candidates from well represented groups.
Mr Green said the Home Office would publish guidelines in the autumn for police force legal departments on the use of positive action provisions in the recruitment process.
Mr Green said he intended to carry on publishing figures showing diversity levels within the police, adding: â€œTransparency is the key to this change.â€
The minister also issued a stout defence of the controversial direct entry system which will see candidates from outside a police background given the opportunity to apply for senior positions within the force.
Many rank and file officers have complained that they will lack the experience those who work on the beat develop and warn the policy could be divisive.
But Mr Green said the diversity of experience that outside candidates would bring would add strength to forces.
He said: â€œDiversity makes policing stronger. Diversity of experience is no different.
Police forces should use â€˜positive discriminationâ€™ to increase diversity, minister tells officers