Northamptonshire Police needs to recruit more Muslim police officers, according to those attending a recruitment drive at Northampton’s Central Mosque.
In the first of many “positive action” recruitment events, police officers manned a stall outside the mosque on Abington avenue in a bid to interest more from the Islamic community to join the force.
The drive has been launched after figures revealed only four per cent of people in the county’s police force identified themselves as black or minority ethnic (BME) - whereas Northamptonshire’s population is eigt per cent BME.
One of the many people to pick up a leaflet from the recruitment stall was 20-year-old student Abdulatuif Ali, who welcomed the force’s recruitment drive.
“It’s important that we have people from different religions to take part in the police force,” he said.
“There should be more Muslim police officers in Northampton because we have a lot of Muslim people in the town.
“For example sometimes police officers visit people at Muslim homes, but there are certain customs they might not understand, like knowing it’s against custom for a man and woman to shake hands when they are not related.”
Also present Fahad Faroq, a 35-year-old IT consultant from Abington said he would be interested in joining the force.
“We need more people to be able to understand the language and values of different cultures,” he said.
The recruitment campaign is designed to fill an intake in September 2016.
The number of officers required is not yet known, but the force is aiming to maintain levels at 1,220.
Attending today’s event Northamptonshire Police’s diversity manager Inspector Iman Kahn admitted the force had fallen short in terms of recruiting BME officers in recent years.
He said: “It’s not just Northampton - nationally the figures are not very good.
“But today is the start of a long process. We want get to at least eight per cent BME staff.”
Information on the sort of jobs available within the force and the eligibility criteria for them can be found at www.northants.police.uk/careers.
Sergeant Megan Sai-Thang, who is the face of Northamptonshire Police’s campaign and is adorning the recruitment leaflets being handed out at all the recruitment events, said having a representative police force runs to the very route of its foundations.
She said: “When the police force was established by Sir Robert Peel, the principle was that a police force was representative of the people it served.
“I think in recent years it has maybe not been as pushed as a subject as much as it should have done, but they are trying to right that now.”