Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Red Ken and the Met in the Grauniad

Red Ken has a letter in the Grauniad which I presume to be loosely related to the "hurt feelings" piffle, mentioned in passing below. I doubt that avid readers of this blog will be sitting on the edge of their seats wondering on which side of the fence your impartial and scrupulous Pedant-General will alight in this matter. Indeed, the only surprise to be registered is that dear old Kenneth Robert Livingstone has not graced these pages already.

So here he is, and there are rich pickings to be had:

Crime 1: Preferring Equality of Outcome to Equality of Opportunity
More than a third of Londoners are of African, Caribbean, Asian or other ethnic-minority heritage. Yet only 6% of police officers in London are black or Asian.
Ken implies that this apparent under-representation is the fault of some institutional failure on the part of the Met. But, given that service in the Met is not compulsory and is therefore down to the decisions of individuals, the relevant comparison here is not with the ethnic mix of the background population, but that of those individuals who actually apply.

Now I haven't done any research on this (and I am more than happy for someone to shove a link in the comments box), but I suspect that the reason Ken has not supplied this statistic is because the proportion of applicants to the Met from ethnic minorities is around, oooh, something like 6%, or not far off it.

Ken needs to show that the Met actively discourages applications, or that a disproportionately or unreasonably high number of ethnic minority cadets fail during training. He does not do this.

[UPDATE]There is, in fact, a larger error here: it is safe - though nonetheless regretful - to say that recruitment and retention of officers from ethnic minorities has been poor in the recent past. The two populations in question (Londoners and the Met) have not therefore been in balance. This situation takes time to correct. Even if recruitment levels are corrected, it will take time to adjust the whole population, as only the new recruits reflect the changed balance.

Crime 2: Lumping People into ghettos
All Londoners pay the taxes which fund the police and other public services and all Londoners should have the right to be policed by their peers.
Less generous and kind-hearted folk than your gracious Pedant-General might frown at this and mutter about double edged swords and things. They might mutter that the ethnic mix of the tax take is not exactly in line with the ethnic mix of the population, and that the ethnic mix of consumption of the service provided does not exactly correlate either. Rest assured that your high-minded Pedant-General does not stoop to such low-grade bean counting.

No. My gripe is with the use of the word "peers". If I were to be mugged on the streets of London - an event which would appear to be getting more and more likely if this is the man with political control over the Met - would I refuse any support from the police until they could supply a PC with suitably Celtic credentials? God forbid that the Duty Sergeant that took my statement should be a Welshman.

Crime 3: Just Talking Rubbish
A police service which reflects London's diversity will be more effective in tackling crime because it will command the confidence of all of the communities it serves.
[Raises eyes to the heavens and implores] The Son of Man on a velocipede! (Note to our American cousins: that's "Christ on a bike")

The Met will command "the confidence of all of the communities it serves" if it is impartial, diligent and does a good job of keeping the peace. As an aside, it stands a better chance of commanding "the confidence of all of the communities it serves" if the Mayor of London doesn't spend his entire life briefing against it.

In fact the Met is more likely to command "the confidence of all of the communities it serves" if it does practically anything other than staring up its own ar*e and worrying about its "diversity".

But these crimes, heinous though they evidently are, are as nothing compared to this last indiscretion. Oh yes, Ken: I've got you this time....

A poll, conducted by Mori for the Greater London Authority in June, found that 73% of Londoners want the police service to better reflect London's different communities.

Gotcha! You're going down, newt-lover.

Now that I have got that off my chest, here is an interesting little report.

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