Only 0.95% of police officers in Greater Manchester are black, despite a regional figure of around 12% of the population.
Greater Manchester has the sixth highest percentage of non-white residents in the United Kingdom with such groups accumulating to 23.6% of the population. However, less than half of this number is represented within its police force.
Police Uplift data in 2023 revealed less than one percent of all police officers in Greater Manchester are black, making up just 77 of the 8,067, while just 9.8% of the police force do not identify as white.
The 2021 census recorded that 12% of Greater Manchester’s residents identified with the Black ethnic group, meaning there is a large gap in their representation within their police force.
In a survey by public opinion researcher Ipsos last year, it was concluded that people in Britain believe that white people are treated more fairly by the police than other groups, with black people likely to receive the least fair treatment.
A lack of representation throughout authority can drive a wedge between the community and those who should be protecting them; often making it hard for members of the public with diverse backgrounds to feel that their police force understands the issues they deal with.
As noted by an article in Police Quarterly in 2015, society often naturally finds it easier to trust and be open with people that they identify with, whether this be through racial factors, gender, religion, or similar experiences in life.
The Asian ethnic group is also highly underrepresented throughout the force, making up 21% of the population in Greater Manchester but just 5.8% of its police officers.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority established its Race Equality Panel in December 2020, aiming to work with residents to promote racial equality in the area.
Among the eight priorities for the panel, they outlined a particular focus on discrimination in policing and criminal justice and ethnic diversity in leadership, especially in the public sector. However, last year’s Home Office data suggested that they are failing to meet this criteria.
Former Chairwoman of the panel Elizabeth Cameron previously said: “Structural practices within the organisation are perpetuating racial discrimination that people experience.”
Cameron spoke to BBC Radio Manchester last year about her work on a damning 2021 report that revealed black people were more likely than white people to be arrested, Tasered and searched by Greater Manchester Police.
The people of Manchester are not being represented within their police force, and diversity is falling very short of the mark in comparison to the area they cover.
The 2023 police data also reveals a wider issue throughout the North West, as none of its police forces had enough black officers to make up as little as one percent of the force population.
Just 6.3% of all police officers in the region are of a non-white ethnic group, which is less than half of the percentage of the population they make up, demonstrating how little diverse ethnic groups are properly represented by their police officers in the North West.
The statistics come at a time of great aggravation and protest towards the policing system as a result of various prejudicial incidents, heightened by the murder of George Floyd in 2020 by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Groups like Black Lives Matter have since increased their fight against racism and racial disproportionality within the police force.
However, a 2023 report by Inquest found that black men are seven times more likely to die following police restraint than other ethnic groups.
Earlier this month, Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Gavin Stephens called Britain’s police force institutionally racist and called for more progress in police reform.
It is clear from this that Greater Manchester must do more to ensure the increased representation of its black community within their police force, to both aid in their safety and understanding and to allow for a heightened trust in Greater Manchester Police from the public.
Superintendent Rachael Harrison, GMP’s lead for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion, said: “Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has published its Diversity Equality Inclusion Strategy which sets out how GMP plans to deliver on its ambition to create a workforce that is truly representative of the communities it serves. We know that we are some way from achieving this and whilst ethnic minority representation is improving we recognise that there is still a lot of work to do to ensure the ethnic diversity of the force aligns with the richness of diversity across Greater Manchester.
In March 2023, ethnic minority staff made up 9.03% of the GMP workforce. Although there was a slight improvement on the previous year (up from 8.9%), and despite female representation growing to 45%, we recognise that the force must continue striving towards attracting the most talented individuals from across communities as we know this also results in better outcomes for communities.
GMP has a number of initiatives under way aimed at improving workforce representation, looking at recruitment as well as creating the right environment and culture to encourage retention and progression of minority officers and staff.”
Featured image credit: Clay Banks