Why it is important we have a diverse police service
Why is diversity in policing in so important? It is a fair question, given that when officers are ‘sworn in’ as constables they promise to carry out their duties ‘without fear or favour’. In other words, they are bound by oath to treat everyone equally.
The answer lies in 1829 when Sir Robert Peel, the founder of modern policing, said: “The police are the public and the public are the police.”
Put simply, this means it is everyone’s duty to uphold the laws of the land. The police just happen to be those members of the public that are paid to do so.
It is a simple, but important concept. Crimes are not solved in a vacuum. They are solved when members of the public come forward with information and members of the public only come forward if they trust the police. If that trust isn’t there, people don’t engage with the police and trust can only be built if the public believes they are the police, ie the officers they deal with could just as easily be members of their community. But communities are not geographic. They can be defined by a wide range of shared characteristics including age, gender and culture and many, many more.
However, when the public looks markedly different to its police service, it creates a distance between the two and a sense the police service no longer serves their community. If that distance becomes too great or, worse, distorted, the relationship between the police and public breaks down to the detriment of everyone.
Ensuring the make up of the police service reflects all sections of society including, and maybe especially, under-represented groups because they are disproportionately affected by crime helps to build that trust. If policing can demonstrate that it has a truly diverse mix of employees within its ranks, the message it sends to the public is clear - the police are there to serve everyone. It is telling the public; we are just like you and, just like you, we want to keep all our communities safe.
Allpolicejobs have made it their mission to help create as diverse a police service as possible by promoting a career in policing within those under-represented groups. It is a bold ambition, but it vital because unless policing becomes truly diverse in all its forms it will fall short in the service it provides its communities.
In short, Sir Robert Peel was right two hundred years ago, and he is right today. The police are the public and the public are the police.
Tina Orr Munro