NO preference will be given to those looking to join Warwickshire Police from ethnic minorities according to the force’s police and crime commissioner Philip Seccombe.

But he did admit that there was an opportunity to look at the numbers particularly as a large-scale recruitment drive was currently taking place.

Around 12 per cent of Warwickshire’s population was classed as black and minority ethnicity (BME) at the 2011 census with that figure rose to around 17 per cent in areas such as Warwick district.

Mr Seccombe told a meeting of Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Panel that the current numbers in the force fell below those figures.

He said: “Warwickshire Police needs to represent the community it polices. The current BME statistics for Warwickshire is around seven per cent with the force [including West Mercia] at five per cent which is more than it was ten years ago. Because officers stay for 30 to 40 years, to turn that around is quite a long-term programme.

“I don’t believe we should specifically select people because of their gender or their race or anything else but I think we should make sure it is fair and that at the end of the day we end up with a force that represents the community.

“I know the force has specific overtures to ethic and minority communities – we have some Polish officers coming in and a number of Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Chinese from across the racial split we have here in Warwickshire. Interestingly in our police staff and PCSOs the ratios are much higher, they are both over ten per cent.”

Around 150 extra officers are currently being taken on and Cllr Jenny Fradgley (Lib Dem Stratford West) suggested: “With the police force looking to recruit so many new people it does seem to be an opportunity to address some of the balances.”

Mr Seccombe agreed and added that in addition to the raw police officer recruits currently going through their 17-week training programme, around 30 officers had transferred to Warwickshire from other police forces.

As part of his annual report presented to the meeting, he also explained how those leaving the armed forces are also being encouraged to sign up.

He added: “I know from my own military service that many of the skills that veterans have are complementary to policing and the additional life experiences they bring can be very valuable, giving a different perspective and helping the organisation grow.”