Yesterday I stumbled across a conversation on Twatter featuring a well-known Chief Constable. He was stating that ‘we’ need to do more to attract more senior BME leaders in the Police Service. There is no “elephant in the room” here, there’s a whole herd of elephants.
I have interpreted the Chief Constable’s statement as meaning that the Police Service should promote more officers from BME origins into senior leadership positions. Personally I feel that this is the wrong approach. Policing is in a big enough crisis as it is at the moment, it does not need to be further hampered by promoting the wrong people, we have seen way too much of that in the past. Officers clearly unsuitable for promotion to the higher ranks got promoted simply to ‘get rid of them and make them someone else’s problem’.
When selecting officers for promotion, to any rank, we should simply be promoting the officers with the best skillsets. This does not exclude anybody of BME origins, nor does it exclude anybody on the basis of their gender, faith or sexuality. We simply need the best available, regardless of all other arbitrary factors.
In my 30 years of service I have worked with almost all BME origins, faiths, genders and sexualities. I have no problem with any of them. I do, however, have a problem with any of these officers who are simply not match fit. I have worked with, and for, some fantastic female officers who I would be quite happy to see promoted. I have also worked alongside some really bad officers who were only retained at all because of their ethnic origins. I can recall vividly one (W) PC of BME origins who was so bad that every call she was sent to, the Duty Inspector stated that another unit had to be sent as well, regardless of the seriousness of the call, just to ensure that she dealt with the call properly. What happened to her? She was transferred to a much sought-after job at Scotland Yard that any officer would have given his/her eye teeth for.
I had the absolute privilege (and I mean that) of working with Norwell “Noz” Roberts, the Met’s first black PC I believe. He retired as a DS but was truly worthy of higher rank.
We simply need to promote the best available, and not pander to artificial targets or quotas. Cream rises to the top regardless.
Another factor to be considered is that some officers simply don’t want to be promoted. My bosses regarded me with some suspicion because in 30 years I never once sat the promotion exam. I never failed it, I simply didn’t take it. I didn’t want to be promoted, almost all of the best jobs (for me) were at the bottom of the ladder not the top. I’m pretty certain that I am not alone in that, and many others will feel similar.
Would any Chief Constable advocate conscription into the Police to raise the BME quotas? Many simply don’t want to join so how do you raise levels? Should the BME officers be compulsorily promoted to raise their presence in the senior ranks? Or should we simply recruit and promote the best candidates regardless of their origins, faith, gender, sexuality etc? If they are sufficiently well-skilled any officer who desires promotion should be eligible for promotion, but do we want officers, from any sector, to be promoted just to fill a quota and nothing more?
So by this statement it doesn't matter if the whole hierarchy of policing is white and male? Are we sure we are judging best fairly?
— Dave Thompson (@DaveThompsonCC) October 8, 2017
It has been stated or implied that these officers bring their own unique views and experiences to the role, and this is true. I accept that it’s true, but is it enough?
For the avoidance of doubt I will repeat that I have no problem with senior officers from any background and would happily have worked with, or for, any of them, with just one proviso, that they had been promoted purely on the basis of their skillsets and abilities to lead/command. Is that too much to ask? Always promote on merit but consider everyone who is eligible fairly and equally. Similarly, if I needed the services of a brain surgeon, I would want the best one available. I wouldn’t care one iota what the ethnicity, gender, faith or sexual orientation of the surgeon was as long as he/she was the best surgeon available.
Simply, I would prefer the best Police and not the ‘best” Police.