Birstall councillor speaks out after man applies for West Yorkshire Police but is told ‘we’re only taking on women and minorities’

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Potential recruits to West Yorkshire Police are being turned down because they aren’t women or ethnic minorities, a Birstall councillor has claimed.

Birstall councillor Mark Thompson, spoke out after a white man from Huddersfield, who applied for a job, was unable to have his application progressed as he didn’t belong to a minority group. The prospective recruit was told that his application would be held until Police Officer recruitment is open for everyone.

At Kirklees Council’s last full council meeting, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, who has responsibility for police matters heard the councillor’s concerns.

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Coun Thompson read out an email received by the applicant which said: “West Yorkshire Police is currently under-represented by women and people from Ethnic Minority backgrounds. In accordance with the Equality Act 2010, we offer those from under-represented groups the opportunity to apply at any time.”

Birstall councillor Mark Thompson.Birstall councillor Mark Thompson.
Birstall councillor Mark Thompson.

The councillor wanted to know whether the Mayor felt that the process of obtaining a degree to enter the Force was slowing down the recruitment of new police officers and whether the email was to do with the “racism that’s involved in recruiting new officers at this moment in time.”

In response, Mayor Brabin defended the police’s recruitment process, saying: “I am hugely proud that the West Yorkshire Police (WYP) has again by Peel standards been designated as outstanding. When I became the Mayor of West Yorkshire I committed one hundred percent to get our WYP to reflect the communities we serve and Alison Lowe has been an exceptional deputy mayor leading the way and as a woman of colour, she understands more than most that we have to build trust if we are to police by consent. That trust is built by representation.

“We are, across the UK, one of the most highly regarded recruiters for people of colour and women. I’m also very proud we have one of the lowest attrition rates for women in the police force. I will continue to back that programme, I will continue to back that focus and I wake up every morning delighted that I am not the police and crime commissioner for the Met because we are not in that place and that is about leadership, it’s about a direction of travel and I will not apologise for trying to get a police force that reflects the people we serve.”

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The issue was brought up at a council meeting earlier this year by the same councillor when it was said that the police’s recruitment process was “hampered” by diversity and inequality. West Yorkshire Police responded to this comment by saying: “[We are] committed to improving equality, diversity, and inclusion within the organisation.”

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin.Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin.
Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin.

“The force remains conscious that we have under-represented groups who are currently people from ethnic minority backgrounds and females. We do use Positive Action, allowed under the Equality Act 2010, for targeted advertising for PC recruitment to groups from these underrepresented groups.

“To be clear though, this principle does not apply in the selection and interview process for available roles.

“West Yorkshire Police will always employ the best person for the job, who gives the best interview on the day or performs the best in an assessment, regardless of how they describe themselves on their application form."