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Less than one percent of Greater Manchester police officers are black

Only 0.95% of police officers in Greater Manchester are black, despite a regional figure of around 5% of the population, according to Home Office data.

Greater Manchester has the sixth highest percentage of non-white residents in the United Kingdom, making up 23.6% of the population, according to the 2021 census – but only 9.8% of its police force is non-white.

The Home Office’s Police Uplift data, released in 2023, also reveals less than one percent of all police officers in Greater Manchester are black, making up just 77 of the 8,067.


The 2021 census recorded that 4.7% of Greater Manchester’s residents identified as black, highlighting a discrepancy in representation within their police force.

Retired police constable and policing lecturer Charles Crichlow QPM said:I think there is a real danger that policing in an operational sense can be compromised when you don’t have proper representation.”

A survey by public opinion researcher Ipsos last year showed 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 in the police can make it hard for members of the public with diverse backgrounds to feel that their police force understands the issues they deal with.

Crichlow said: “The police should reflect the public not just cosmetically but in how it behaves, how we include people in the organisation, and help them feel a sense of belonging.”

The now University of East London senior lecturer received a Queen’s Policing Medal in 2020 upon retirement from Greater Manchester Police, following a career committed to improving representation and diversity within the force.

The Asian ethnic group is also highly underrepresented throughout the force, making up 13.6% 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.

They outlined a particular focus on discrimination in policing and criminal justice and ethnic diversity in leadership, especially in the public sector.

According to the Home Office, a 50.4% increase in the recruitment of white police officers took place in Greater Manchester from 2022 to 2023, while the same year saw a 13.3% decrease in that of non-white ethnic groups. 

Charles Crichlow said: “When you hear the testimony from black officers in the force, it’s no wonder that people from those communities are voting with their feet.”

President of the National Black Police Association Andrew George revealed that adverse impact ratios are partially to blame, with a proportionate number of black identifying people applying for positions in the force but a disproportionate number finding success during the recruitment process.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Inspector said: “It adds an additional layer of trauma and anxiety for officers.

“Having a more representative police force benefits everyone. We are sharing experiences and widening our knowledge of the communities that we serve.”

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.

Claims of institutional racism

Zara Manoehoetoe of Northern Police Monitoring Project said: “Many Greater Manchester residents don’t feel safe nor have trust in the police. Generations of Greater Manchester residents have experienced and witnessed violence and harm at the hands of GMP.”

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.

A 2023 report by Inquest found that black men are seven times more likely to die following police restraint than other ethnic groups.

Andrew George said: “The information that we are getting from our loved ones and from the media is a predominantly negative portrayal of people that look like us.

“Lack of diversity means that the only time many officers are coming into contact with ethnic minority communities in Manchester is generally for enforcement activity, which reinforces their bias, stereotypes and their misinformation.”

NBPA’s Manchester branch, Greater Manchester Black and Asian Police Association, works closely with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation in areas like Salford, which aims to create equal opportunities and pathways for young people. 

By utilising officers with lived experiences, they hope to show young people in diverse communities that policing can be an option for them and provide role models in the force that they can identify with.

Last year, Greater Manchester Chief Constable Stephen Watson dismissed the idea of institutional racism within police forces in the United Kingdom.

Andrew George called the dismissal one of Greater Manchester’s additional burdens. He said: “It could reinforce the belief that the police are biased, racist, and that we don’t want to work with diverse communities.”

While Charles Crichlow championed accountability, saying: “I do think it creates a lot of problems and emboldens certain elements in policing and can make [brutality and racism] worse. That can cause policing to deteriorate in terms of its effectiveness.”

Crichlow believes that a massive culture shift needs to come from the highest political level, while George said that the answer may lie in community outreach and understanding but neither sees an end in sight for police racism and lack of diversity. 

Crichlow summed it up: “How are you going to remedy that if you won’t even acknowledge the existence of the problem?”

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 underway 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 via Unsplash

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