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Head of West Midlands Police committed to diversifying force

VOW: Chief Constable Dave Thompson

CHIEF CONSTABLE Dave Thompson, the newly appointed head of West Midlands Police, has pledged that the force is committed to employing more ethnic officers as figures reveal that out of 253 new recruits over the past two years, just one is black.

Thompson, during his first full day in his new role admitted to The Voice: “I don’t think we’re there yet on race, but we are continuing to work really hard to make sure we recruit the best possible people for the job in order to reflect the community we serve.”

The embarrassing figures reveal that despite almost a third of residents in the West Midlands being black, Asian, mixed-race or other, only 13 per cent of police staff are from ethnic minorities.

With a recruitment freeze lifted last year the force is half way to employing 450 new officers, but of the 253 recruits so far 214 were white, 20 were Asian, 13 mixed race, five not stated, and just one black.

ADMISSION

Thompson admitted the figures were ‘of concern’ but insisted they were not so polarised within Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and police staff working behind the scenes.

And he also stressed that recruiting issues were not only about race, but also age as he revealed the West Midlands was becoming an older force.

Thompson, who writes his own blogs, said: “Our force now has a twitter following of well over 200,000 – social media gives us the chance to respond immediately to the public. Rumours are dealt with and quashed on social media – it breaks down the hierarchy and there is far more accessibility.

“Research shows that BME communities are the most digitally active, so we want our digital service to help in our recruitment of more BAME employees. We want to be a service that people trust, that is fair and friendly.”

Thompson’s comments come as officers are battling with a recent spike in shootings across Birmingham over the past six months. He believes a flood of guns coming into the region, some of them antique, maybe behind the shootings which are at a five-year high.

The Chief Constable, who is the police’s National Lead for the criminal use of firearms, said officers in Birmingham were working closely with the community in Handsworth, Hockley, Lozells and Aston.

“For well over a decade there has been a reduction in the level of gun crime across the West Midlands,” he said. “But there have been some very serious incidents and the problem has returned.

“We are determined to work with our communities to get to the very source of why this is happening. The gang culture is something we have to tackle together.”

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