That we might be a little out of step with the ruling ethos of our era can be seen as our own problem. Reality out there is what it is, madness is refusing to adapt to it. Then we’ve got idiocies like this which are a failure of basic logic, nothing to do with aims or desires at all.
So, the basic problem Sarah Thornton has identified. The BAME population of the country is x%, the police BAME is y%, this is a problem for x != y.
Well, OK, except we actually want to be a little more careful than that. The police, sure, we’d like them to reflect the general population – that’s Bobby Peel all over again. More than anything else the ethos of British policing is that they are us, they are the general population. We all have powers of arrest for example….
That means that we’d like police forces to be variable in their BAME-ness, as are the regional populations. So too the age cohorts differ. Thus levels of rank aren’t going to reflect the general population either, at least not yet – there’s that bolus of immigration to pass through the python yet.
OK, but subject to all of these caveats yes, we’d like the police to reflect the population. How to do this? Well, if we make sure that recruitment reflects the population being recruited from then we’re done. As death and the passage of time pass the pigs through the python then we will indeed have what we desire, population reflecting police. And if there are future changes in BAME-ness then exactly the same policy will achieve exactly the same goal.
So, what’s Thornton arguing?
Thornton said her personal view was that positive discrimination was needed: “That is unlawful at the moment. If you want to do something to give a shock to the system and say we can’t wait to 2052, I think we need to do something different. “It is a political judgment, isn’t it? How important is this? If it’s important, then I think you need to look at a different approach.” While 14% of the population are from an ethnic minority, just 7% of police in England and Wales are – up from 2% when Macpherson reported 20 years ago. Thornton said a quarter or even 30% of new recruits in some big forces were from an ethnic minority. But changing the overall makeup of forces was slow and budget cuts meant few new officers joined between 2010-2015. “It will take a long time. The turnover of police officers is really quite slow, so it is about 6% a year, it’s always going to take you a long time, and it’s about whether we can wait,” she said.
That is, we’ve already solved the problem as best we can. But she’s insisting we must change the law, we must discriminate upon the grounds of race, in order to – well, what? What would we actually do? Recruit more BAME constables because what? In two decades we’d have a police force managed by those more BAME than the general population, wouldn’t we? Meaning we’d have just the negative image of the same problem all over again.
The answer being, yes, of course we can wait. As long as each recruiting class reflects the age cohort of the recruitment and service area then we’re done. What the hell else needs to be achieved?