The culture of Britain’s chief constables has been branded ‘macho, white and middle-aged’ in a stinging attack by the new female head of the Police Superintendents’ Association.
Irene Curtis launched her broadside as she revealed that in more than a third of forces there are no senior women officers at all.
Ms Curtis, the first female head of the association, which represents 1,400 officers in England and Wales, said radical change was needed to reform the ‘simply not acceptable’ police leadership in order to bridge equality issues.
Gunning for change: New chief of the Police Superintendent’s Association Irene Curtis says major cultural change needs to happen in the police to stop the inequality which she says in rife within many forces
Most recent Home Office figures, for March 2012, show 17 of the 44 police forces do not have a female in the three most senior ranks of assistant, deputy or chief constable.
Only five of the 44 forces have a member of an ethnic minority in one of the top jobs.
Of the 220 officers in the top three ranks only 36 are women, while just six are from an ethnic minority. ‘
Ms Curtis said in the Sunday Times: ‘A significant number of forces have no officers from a black or minority background in the rank of superintendent or above, and there are still some forces that have never had a female officer above the rank of chief superintendent. This is simply not acceptable in 2013 after more than 20 years of effort.’
She said the service suffered because ‘the middle-aged white’ males who dominated the top ranks continued to promote people ‘who behaved like themselves and were in their own image’.
Her comments fuel the debate about equality in the police and come after Chief Superintendent Dal Babu, of the Metropolitan police, accused chief constables of not understanding the need for more black or Asian recruits.
It also emerged that not a single black officer was currently taking the senior officer’s command course, the training programme for the future leadership of British policing.
Ms Curtis met policing minister Damian Green last week to urge him to tackle the issue.
She slammed the ‘macho performance culture’ of British police chiefs trying to emulate the ‘very competitive’ target-driven management style of Bill Bratton, the former New York and Los Angeles police chief, saying it ‘did not actually achieve very much’.
She said: ‘We need a certain type of leader and I’m not sure the dominant type of leader, who tends to be the male leader, and the macho performance culture we have at the moment, is the right type.
‘There is a reluctance in some areas to truly value difference in the police service, not just in terms of gender or race, but also in relation to those who think differently. There is still evidence that some senior leaders in the service continue just to promote and support others who are like them.’
‘The Association of Chief Police Officers said it was addressing the concerns.
‘Four female chief constables have recently been appointed by the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners.’
It added that there were 48 ethnic minority officers at chief superintendent and superintendent level ‘with hopes for the future’.
And it insisted chief officers were investing ‘huge effort’ into recruiting more diverse leaders.
The association has called for more radical measures from government to bring in changes.