Home Secretary Theresa May is determined to make England’s police forces more diverse – and she singled out the North Yorkshire force for criticism.

In a speech to the National Black Policing Association’s conference, Mrs May revealed that the Home Office had published “diversity profiles” for England and Wales forces.

The data, which shows a breakdown of all officers by gender and ethnic background, will show “local communities up and down the country just how representative their police force is – or isn’t”.

Then Mrs May said:

Incredibly, this data shows that four forces do not employ any black or black British police officers at all…

This is simply not good enough. I hope these figures will provide chief constables with the information they need to identify areas for improvement and for the public and PCCs to hold them to account.

One of the forces without a single black officer is North Yorkshire (the others are Cheshire, Durham and Dyfed-Powys – although the latter two dispute the claim).

Here are the figures just published…

Police officer ethnicity

Ethnicity Police officers Police officer % Force area population % Force area population
Asian or Asian British 5 0.4% 1.2% 9,914
Black or Black British 0 0.0% 0.5% 3,618
Chinese or other ethnic group 0 0.0% 0.8% 6,233
Mixed 10 0.7% 0.9% 7,456
Not stated 1 0.1%
White 1,379 98.9% 96.6% 769,206

The gender divide meanwhile, shows that only 29.5% of North Yorkshire police officers are women – despite women being 50.9% of the population.

‘Recruitment challenges’

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick
Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick pointed out that North Yorkshire police “do have a number of Asian and mixed race officers from PC to Superintendent rank, and black, Asian, Chinese and mixed race police staff”.

He said the county faced particular difficulties:

Recruitment in North Yorkshire has several challenges including its small black population, the geographical size of the county, meaning people from out of the area have to travel far to get to work, and the cost of housing stock.

Efforts to attract more officers from minority groups had included recruitment programmes in neighbouring counties.

And the force had developed an action plan with the College of Policing to address the recruitment of ethnic minority officers in the future.

Dep ch con Madgwick said this work “has not been helped by the reduction in starting salary for new police officers”. And he added:

Recruitment is the only tool to help us address under-representation, however, recruitment opportunities will now be very limited as we move into a future with even greater cuts to the policing budget.

‘Home Secretary right’

Meanwhile, Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: “The Home Secretary is right that diversity in the police is a very serious issue, and one we have been aware of and trying to address for some time in North Yorkshire.”

The small number of black people in the county made this “particularly difficult” she said, adding:

Diversity will become increasingly important, but increasingly difficult, as police workforces shrink, but Chief Officers and I are committed to ensuring North Yorkshire Police is a diverse, welcoming organisation reflecting the best of British society.