Society needs to have the "courage" to discuss the realities of policing, according to Surrey's police commissioner who has apologised for any offence caused by the outspoken views he expressed in an interview with the Epsom Guardian last week.
In a statement released by Kevin Hurley to this newspaper, the ex-policeman addressed concerns raised by his views on the ethnic diversity of the police.
Calls for his resignation by Charles Crichlow, president of the National Black Police Association, and Doreen Lawrence’s assertion that Mr Hurley’s comments about the Stephen Lawrence case are "inaccurate" and "misguided", and her worry that his views could "undermine the trust and confidence of large sections of the communities he is responsible for policing", were also put to the reservist army officer.
Mr Hurley said: "When a member of the public calls on the police in an emergency, their first concern is with the timeliness, quality and professionalism of the service they provide.
"Thereafter they will be looking for a sensitive, responsive and effective investigation.
"I stressed in the interview that, when looking at the recruitment of police officers, our first concern should always be on recruiting motivated, professional and emotionally intelligent people – whatever the background - with the skills and passion for policing.
"We want the best people delivering the best service to the public.
"I have not disputed the value of the police service reflecting the culture it serves.
"Nor have I said we should not be doing more to bring in people from different cultural backgrounds to serve our communities as police officers.
"Indeed, that was my aim in raising this issue – highlighting the difficulties the service faces in recruitment.
"As a society we need to reach a point where all of our young people see policing – helping to protect the public and make a positive difference for the society they are a part of – as a vocation of genuine value for which their service would be fairly recognised and rewarded.
"However, to reach that position we need to have the courage to discuss the reasons why some people from ethnic minorities are not being attracted to the vocation of policing.
"We cannot just look at police recruitment policy in isolation and try and take a one-size-fits-all approach.
"Different communities and cultural groups can have differing views on policing as a career for their children.
"For some, policing may not always be seen as the most desirable career path, for many different reasons.
"We should seek to understand why this is. Entering onto this important territory is not for the faint-hearted, but we will not diversify the workforce if we are unwilling to look at all the issues.
"Reducing the starting pay for constables to £19,000 and reducing other benefits will, to one extent or another, act as a further deterrent to people considering whether or not to begin a career in policing.
"I believe we need to do more to support and value our police officers – of all backgrounds - if we are to make it a more appealing career for anyone to pursue.
"In making those arguments it was not my intention to cause distress to the Lawrence family or any of your readers and I apologise to them if any such offence has arisen from my comments."
Last week Mr Hurley also apologised in the Liverpool Echo newspaper for his comments on the Hillsborough disaster, in which he said that two of the main reasons for the 1989 football stadium crush were an inexperienced fast-track police officer who opened the exit gate and fans rushing out of pubs towards Leppings Lane at the last minute.
In his statement to the Epsom Guardian, the 59-year-old said: "The Government is putting forward plans for direct entry to senior policing posts and the acceleration of the existing fast-tracking process which brings police officers more quickly through the ranks to senior roles.
"I am against these plans, which could potentially put people in positions of significant responsibility for public safety with minimal experience and understanding of the role.
"Following the Hillsborough tragedy, the decision to replace the regular match day police commander with a chief superintendent with little experience of policing the ground subsequently raised concern.
"This is something we can learn from, in the same way that we have learned how to better manage crowds at large scale events, how to design safer stadia and how the police as a service must be more accountable and more transparent to the public.
"The point I am looking to stress is that public safety – and making sure the people responsible for it are properly skilled and experienced to do the job – has to be the first consideration when promoting police chiefs.
"I am worried that Government plans to immediately bring people into the police at senior rank with no experience could increase the risk to public safety.
"We could soon have Superintendents with only two years’ police service, rather than 16-20 years which is the norm.
"Hence I raise the issue of competence in specialist roles such as policing football matches and I regret if any of my comments in relation to this have caused any distress.
"We must never forget the lessons of Hillsborough. My intent is to make fans safer, not criticise them."
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