The lack of black and minority ethnic (BME) representation at the highest ranks of the force has prompted an organisation representing black officers to question its legitimacy in policing an increasingly diverse society.
West Yorkshire Police has only 11 non-white officers at inspector or above out of a total of nearly 360, a rate of three per cent, though more than five per cent of its total officer strength is of a BME background.
The force has five non-white superintendents but no non-white officers among its chief inspectors, chief superintendents or senior command team.
More than 18 per cent of the county’s population are from a BME background, including a third of all residents in Bradford.
Franstine Jones, president of the National Black Police Association, said: “By 2018 it is going to be even worse, we will have a police service where we have no BME officers above the level of inspector or chief inspector. In an ever-increasingly diverse community that goes to the legitimacy of a police service that has a majority white police force policing a very diverse community.”
The force’s Pakistan-born Deputy Chief Constable Jawaid Akhtar, the highest ranked Asian officer in the country, retired in January.
Director of Human Resources, Hilary Sykes, said it strives “to be representative of the communities we serve” and had achieved a gradual rise in the number of BME officers.
But she said: “In recent years, financial constraints have limited the recruitment of new officers which, in turn, has had an impact on the opportunities to increase the number of appointments and the progression of people from a BME background.”