London, Nov 23 : Amid concerns about discrimination in the British Police forces, official figures prove that the number of recruits from ethnic minorities to British Police forces has almost been halved in the past five years.
Official figures obtained by the Tories have revealed that the total of black and ethnic minority (BME) entrants into the 43 forces in England and Wales fell from 795 in 2003-04 to 430 in the last financial year, despite concerted efforts to improve relations between the police and minority communities, reported The Independent.
According to the paper, the revelation undermines the Government's claim last week that there had been "significant success in increasing overall minority ethnic representation". It comes amid renewed concerns over racism in the service after the suspension of PC Steve Bettley, from Merseyside, whose name was included among those of thousands of British National Party supporters leaked on an Internet blog.
The Metropolitan Police saw BME recruits plunge from 500 to 193 over the period. Huge metropolitan forces, including Greater Manchester, Merseyside and the West Midlands were also among 31 that have reported a fall in BME recruits since 2003. The shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, said the figures were "worrying", but also condemned the Metropolitan Black Police Association's "highly irresponsible" call for a boycott of ethnic recruitment.
Meanwhile, the BNP confirmed last night that 12 of its members had been arrested. Police said the arrests were made in Liverpool yesterday, and that the men were being held on suspicion of distributing racist material. Assistant Chief Constable Colin Matthews said: "Merseyside Police condemns racism in all its forms."
Politicians used the dramatic disclosure of BNP support to issue renewed warnings of the threat posed by extremists, particularly in white, working-class communities hit by the credit crunch.
Labour MP Jon Cruddas is expected to speak this week at a Holocaust Educational Trust event, highlighting concerns about the BNP exploiting the economic downturn, while the Secretary of State for Communities, Hazel Blears, yesterday warned that white working-class voters were turning to the BNP because they felt ignored by mainstream parties.