by LAUREN CODLING
ASIAN police officers have urged ethnic minority communities to consider a position in the service, as it was revealed last week that the institution is lagging “decades behind” on diversity.
A poll commissioned by The Guardian found that the proportion of the population of England and Wales who are from minority ethnic backgrounds stood at almost 15 per cent in 2016. This is expected to rise to at least 20 per cent by 2050.
However, if increases in the number of officers from ethnic minorities remains at the same rate as it has in the past 10 years, it will take 34 years before the police reflects the modern-day population.
PC Jyoti Malhi, 41, works for the violent crime task-force in the Metropolitan Police. Malhi, who has almost 14 years of service, has a “firm belief” that the police should reflect the community that it serves.
“We need more officers who are from different backgrounds and from different walks of life,” she told Eastern Eye.
“When a victim speaks to the police and they see somebody of their own ethnicity, it can help them a lot, especially when it comes to languages.”
Malhi recalled an instance when an elderly Asian couple in Tower Hamlets, east London, were burgled. The victims were unable to speak English, so she was called to communicate with them as she speaks Urdu.
“It gave that couple a moment to ‘destress’ and they knew they were able to communicate with someone,” she said.
More diversity can lead to better communication, satisfaction, engagement and confidence in the service, she said.
“It can make a massive difference,” Malhi added.
As of March 2018, 93.4 per cent of officers were white, and 6.6 per cent were from all other ethnic groups.
Between 2007 and 2018, the percentage of police officers from BAME groups combined increased by 2.7 per cent.
According to statistics released in October, only 3.7 per cent of officers in senior ranks were from an ethnic background.
Earlier this year, Zaheer Ahmed, of North Yorkshire Police, claimed white officers were promoted to some more senior positions and the only explanation for him missing out was his race.
A tribunal heard that Ahmed, who had 23 years’ service, was overlooked for promotions and obstacles had been put in the way of his “career progression”.
He was later awarded £95,000 by the police for racial discrimination.
However, PC Ronnie Ashta, 33, hoped stories such as this would not deter minorities from applying to the force.
Ashta, who is currently working as a ward officer from the West Area Command Unit, said he used to hear “horror stories” regarding minorities hitting glass ceilings when he first joined the police, but he believed the increase in diversity had helped.
“Things are changing,” he said. “Promotion is open to everyone in the police.”
PC Anish Sharma, 28, has been working in the Met Police for five years. He works in Southall, a predominately Asian area in west London.
He told Eastern Eye he would persuade anyone who is interested to explore their career options in the force.
“You basically work with your family every day,” Sharma said.
“Your colleagues support you and you know they will always be there. If there is anyone who needs assistance, you know there is reassurance that someone will be there for you.”
He added that being able to help people when they were in need was one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.
“There is nothing else like it,” he said.