Examining 'window dressing' : the views of black police associations on recruitment and training

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O'Neill, ME ; Holdaway, S (2007)

In a previous issue of this journal, Ellis Cashmore (2002 Cashmore, E. 2002. ‘Behind the window dressing: minority ethnic police perspectives on cultural diversity’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 28(2): 327–41. \ud [Taylor & Francis Online], [CSA], [Google Scholar]\ud ) discussed two key issues currently confronting police constabularies in England and Wales: the recruitment of minority ethnic officers and civilian staff, and the impact of diversity training now in place for all police officers. Cashmore argued that not only are these policies ineffective in enhancing cultural diversity within constabularies, but that they are harmful, presenting a false outward image of effective action. This article examines Cashmore's arguments and develops them in light of findings from recent research on Black Police Associations (BPAs) in England and Wales. Our findings firstly suggest that, because of heavy involvement with these initiatives and the close relationship BPAs have developed with senior management (in comparison to non-BPA members), they must be considered in any discussion of minority ethnic recruitment and diversity training. In addition, the majority of the officers we interviewed were supportive of current recruitment and training programmes. Secondly, we argue that BPAs are helping to change the nature of the overall police culture to a certain extent. Many minority ethnic officers no longer feel they must downplay their ethnicity as members of constabularies.
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