North Yorkshire Police has responded to criticism from the Home Secretary that the force has no black police officers.
It says recruitment is difficult, especially with budget cuts, but there is a pledge to ensure the force is a “diverse, welcoming organisation”.
Home Secretary Theresa May today said that forces around the country do not represent the communities they serve and must increase ethnic diversity.
Four forces - North Yorkshire, Cheshire, Durham and Dyfed-Powys - do not have a single black officer, she told the National Black Police Association, adding that there are no ethnic minority chief constables, which is “not good enough”.
The College of Policing said it was trying to improve recruitment of ethnic minority officers, “but there are no quick fixes”.
And North Yorkshire Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick said: “Past recruitment campaigns have targeted minority groups, including extending our reach to neighbouring counties. We have also developed an action plan with the College of Policing to address the recruitment of ethnic minority officers in the future. That said, we do have a number of Asian and mixed race officers from PC to Superintendent rank, and black, Asian, Chinese and mixed race police staff.
“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. This has not been helped by the reduction in starting salary for new police officers.
“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.”
North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan 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 make-up of our county makes recruiting minorities particularly difficult, with less than 0.5% of our population being black and less than 3.5% being BME. This means we have to look at a range of recruitment tactics, including for example, recruiting outside North Yorkshire to make sure we reach a diverse pool of potential candidates. 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.”