Mayor agrees to ask for law change on Met recruitment

Today I’m very pleased the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan agreed to press the Government to adjust the law on equality to allow for positive action in recruiting more women and BAME officers to the Met Police.

The Mayor was responding to questions from me today in the London Assembly, and this action on recruitment was a key commitment in my manifesto earlier this year.

During the campaign Sadiq Khan had said he would not be seeking to change the law to allow for preferential recruitment of equally qualified female and BAME officers.

Londoners need to see a Met that looks and feels like them and, after many years of slow progress, radical positive action is needed. Problems with attracting the best, most representative, talent to the Met make a sensible change in the law vital to allow for positive action.

Similar measures worked to make Northern Ireland’s police service more representative of different religions, and this change would also help other industries that are struggling to represent the public, including the media and other public services.

Currently only a third of the total Met workforce are women and there are still just over 12 per cent BAME officers compared with around 40 per cent in London’s population. This is not good enough and I’m delighted that the Mayor has changed his mind and committed to campaign for effective action and a change in the law today.

In 2014, the Assembly Police and Crime Committee recommended that: “MOPAC should open up dialogue with Government around the feasibility of implementing a law change in the future if the Met is unable to recruit more BAME officers in the next two years.”

With those two years now up, the Mayor today agreed, in response to questioning, that he would lobby Government to amend the provisions within the Equality Act (section 159) from requiring ‘equal merit ‘ to ‘equally qualified’ recruits.

This would enable positive action in ‘volume recruitment’ – ie recruiting preferentially from underrepresented groups when a number of applicants within a pool meet the high standards required.