Calls for Surrey's outspoken police commissioner to resign have been voiced after his controversial comments in last week's exclusive interview with the Epsom Guardian.
Charles Crichlow, president of the National Black Police Association and a neighbourhood police officer, said the comments made by Kevin Hurley, on the race of police officers being irrelevant, were "totally outrageous" and said the ex-policeman is "not fit" to be a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
He said: said: "I see on a daily basis how important it is for the service to reflect the community – it’s not just about seeing black and brown faces, but about the difference it makes operationally.
"Often, it’s the key to unlocking and gaining access to communities."
Mr Crichlow attacked Mr Hurley’s comments about the police’s handling of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which he said had been an isolated case requiring the police officers involved to deal with the Lawrence family with "more emotional intelligence", and his belief that Sir William Macpherson was suffering from "post-colonial guilt" in his inquiry into Mr Lawrence’s death.
He said: "The Lawrence case was about a complete system failure and stereotyping.
"I worry for Surrey. If Mr Hurley is standing by his comments, he’s unfit to be a PCC. What he’s saying is not based on intelligence."
Mr Crichlow said that while Mr Hurley outlined the reasons why he believes ethnic minorities do not want to join the police, the culture and treatment of ethnic minorities within the police is "an issue we’ve been talking about for years".
He said a report published last year into disproportionality in police professional standards commisssioned by Greater Manchester Police and conducted by Manchester University, showed very clearly that the police "still has a major problem dealing with the difference - which is unacceptable in the criminal justice system in the 21st Century".
He added: "Sir Robert Peel said the ‘police are the public and the public are the police’, and this applies to ethnic diversity. There has to be a relationship between the public and the police."
Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen, said PCCs must "build on the lessons highlighted in the Macpherson report and develop community policing approaches that all communities can trust".
She said: "I fear Kevin Hurley’s comments could undermine the trust and confidence of large sections of the communities he is responsible for policing.
"His comments about my case are inaccurate. It is misguided to boil down the problem to a personal one between the family and the police."
But despite the storm surrounding Mr Hurley's comments, there has been support for his approach.
Mike Dodds, chairman of the Surrey Police Federation, said he was "absolutely capable of performing as PCC".
He said he agreed with his zero tolerance approach, his desire to "liberate" police officers, and his belief that relentless police criticism is damaging their ability to do the job – but not with the 59-year-old’s comments about ethnic diversity, saying it was right to use "positive action measures" to encourage ethnic minorities into the police.
He said: "In modern life it seems very popular to bash the police and officers at the moment are punch drunk, reeling from one negative story to the next. Morale is very low.
"Kevin Hurley wants to stand up for police officers.
"I can understand why concerns have been voiced, it’s unusual with today’s press that someone has been willing to stand up and be counted and speak in a very frank manner.
"I respect that he has stood by his comments and that some have not been very well-received."
He added: Kevin Hurley's experience as a senior police officer demonstrates he is able to put plans into action as to how to deal with things."
On Mr Hurley’s assertion that the Macpherson Inquiry was biased by "post-colonial guilt", Mr Dodds said: "Mr Hurley was a serving police officer during the Macpherson Inquiry and it would seem he has taken much of it to heart."
He added that Mr Hurley’s belief that those from African backgrounds are deterred from joining the police because they come from countries where the police are tainted by working for dictatorships was a "restricted view not really in keeping with the view shared by police officers I work with".
A spokesman for Surrey Police said they are focused on delivering Mr Hurley’s six ‘People’s Priorities’ in Surrey and that they agreed with his views on the Government's fast-tracking of police officers into senior posts.
He said: "To deliver a relentless focus on criminals we have to have the confidence of all the communities we serve and to that end we do believe that we need to attract and develop the best applicants to policing from every background.
"We support Mr Hurley’s view that direct entry at superintendent level is not the best way to do that."
Epsom councillor Clive Smitheram, chairman of the council's crime and disorder committee, said it is too early to pass judgement on Mr Hurley's time as PCC.
He said: "He's a well-rounded citizen who understands society and his background in the police is invaluable.
"His comments might well have pulled a few people up short. But, in four years' time if the public is not happy, they will deal with it accordingly."