The Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation has branded Sir Bernard Hogan-Howeâ€™s remarks about positive discrimination â€œdrivelâ€ â€“ accusing the Commissioner of pandering to the â€œpolitically correct brigadeâ€.
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard has said he wants employment law altered to enable the force to practice a form of positive discrimination.
Sir Bernard wants to copy a practice in Northern Ireland designed to achieve diversity in the ranks and â€œcreate a â€˜critical massâ€™ of black and minority ethnic officers within the service which we believe would then help encourage even more to joinâ€.
The Met already undertakes â€œpositive actionâ€ recruitment advertising campaigns targeted at specific communities considered underrepresented in the force, and the commissioner has in the past stated his commitment to get his force â€œlooking like Londonâ€.
The force would now like to recruit people from minorities in equal numbers to those from the white majority â€œfor a set period of timeâ€, said a spokesman for the Met.
However, Federation Chairman John Tully said he did not agree with the idea.
He told PoliceOracle.com: â€œIâ€™ve gone on record saying I donâ€™t support it at all. I am against any discrimination whatsoever, and that includes positive discrimination.â€
He said he had no objections to positive action campaigns, but added: â€œIf you relate that to the Northern Ireland example, they can only recruit one protestant if they recruit one Catholic. We would be able to recruit one white person only if we also recruited someone that isnâ€™t white.
â€œActually we agree with Tom Winsor that we should be recruiting the best person for the job. It doesnâ€™t matter what colour or sexual orientation they are, so long as they are up to the job and are competent.â€
He said Sir Bernardâ€™s idea was â€œakin to pandering to those sections of society who think they know best, and on this occasion I donâ€™t think they do know best [...] this drivel about the Met looking like the city it polices is just nonsense. Itâ€™s a headline grabbing snippet. We donâ€™t police by headlines, we police by consent.
â€œIâ€™m sorry if it doesnâ€™t suit the politically correct brigade but thatâ€™s the way it is.â€
â€˜Pushing the limitâ€™
Others, including Greater Manchester Policeâ€™s Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy â€“ Vice President of the Association of Chief Police Officers â€“ have come out in support of Sir Bernardâ€™s view.
Sir Peter said: â€œA service that represents the communities we serve is imperative in tackling crime and terrorism.
â€œWhen you are dealing with difficult community issues, undercover operations or gathering intelligence there is an operational need for officers who understand different national or ethnic groups, can identify with their culture and build relationships to work with them effectively.
â€œDespite police efforts, the service still does not reflect the diversity of our communities, particularly in big towns and cities.
â€œWe are pushing the existing law to its limit so that chief officers can take positive action in the recruitment process to choose candidates that are most able to engage with a particular group or tackle certain issues in their force area.
â€œAs the size of forces reduces and there is more competition for promotion opportunities, this becomes a more challenging issue and there is a danger that progress slows.
â€œChief officers have been clear that they would like to see a change in employment law to allow the rights of the individual to be balanced with the needs of the organisation and the expectations of the local community.â€