London, Sep 24 (UNI) Recruitment officials from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, under fire for not recruiting sufficient employees from ethnic minorities, have been visiting mosques and temples to try to persuade the community to join the force.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has less than a quarter of the number of operational staff from ethnic minorities the government has asked for.
Just 12 people employed by the service are from ethnic minorities -- out of a total of 1,620 across the force.
Emma Cullen of the Commission for Racial Equality said, ''We appreciate the difficulty that rural services have in recruiting staff. However, this cannot be an excuse and efforts must be made to redress the balance. It is important that this service does everything it can to improve upon the situation.'' ''Public services ought to be representative of the communities that they serve and unfortunately this is often not happening,'' she added.
Sarah McCarthy-Fry, MP for Portsmouth North, said ''I think all public services should reflect the make-up of the communities they represent. On this basis I think Hampshire fire service needs to do some more work.'' The short-fall was revealed at a meeting of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Performance Review Committee.
Philip Webb, performance review manager for the authority, said many fire stations across the county were in rural areas, where very few people from ethnic minorities lived.
''We are still a long way short of the target,'' he added.
''Leicester has got one of the largest black and ethnic minority populations in the country and we've asked them to come down and talk to our outreach workers,'' Mr Webb.