Police and justice Black worker numbers ‘going in the wrong direction’

Police and justice service group conference opens with vow to tackle employment discrimination

A white applicant has a better chance of getting a job than a Black applicant in more than two thirds of UK forces, UNISON’s police and justice conference heard today.

On the opening day of the conference in Southport, Kitty Smith from the national Black members’ committee pointed out that no police force reflects its local population, and called for “greater scrutiny for police chiefs failing to ensure their force reflects the community they serve”.

And Debbie Potter from the service group executive described Black worker representation as “moving in the wrong direction”.

Jenny Martin, who works in the probation service in the Midlands, spoke movingly about her personal experience of racism.

“It’s sad that, in the 21st century, racism hasn’t gone anywhere – it still exists,” he said.

“I have a nephew in his early twenties and, unfortunately, he experiences mental health issues. The police went to my sister’s house and used a Taser on him. He’s fortunate he’s still here.”

Ms Martin said that the motion that was passed at conference today would go some way to helping combat racism.

It is well documented that representative workforces that can relate to diverse communities deliver better services. Yet despite this, the number of Black PCSOs has been steadily decreasing.

Number of Black PCSOs (excluding the London Met)

Number of Black PCSOs in 2015 and 2010 (excluding the London Met)*



Conference instructed the service group executive to:

  • undertake a mapping exercise identifying the representation of Black workers in employment and in senior positions amongst employers in the service group;
  • survey Black members in police and probation to get information on their experiences in the workplace and to help inform what needs to change and what initiatives need to be developed;
  • work across employers in the service group to seek to develop initiatives or frameworks that seek to increase the employment, promotion and fair treatment of Black workers;
  • continue to work with the National Black Police Association and Association of Black Probation Officers (ABPO) to improve equality, further the interests of Black staff working for police and probation services in England, Scotland and Wales, and to enhance work within the criminal justice system in respect of Black communities more widely.

PCSO figures have grown in Wales because the Welsh government has increased its funding for PCSOs for the four Welsh police forces.