PC Ruth Honegan (second right) and Chief Inspector Mo Aziz (third right) is attached. They are pictured with from left, Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, former policing minister Nick Hurd, Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway, and former Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher Image Bedfordshire Police

Officers led recruitment campaign to boost force’s diversity

Two Bedfordshire Police officers who drove forward work to improve diversity in the force’s recruitment have been recognised by the Queen. Chief Inspector Mo Aziz and PC Ruth Honegan have both been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

The pair helped Bedfordshire Police recruit record numbers of police officers from diverse backgrounds. Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said:

“I am delighted that Mo and Ruth have been recognised for all their hard work and success.

“Their efforts were integral to ensuring people from black and Asian backgrounds felt like a career in policing could be for them.

“We have made great strides in this area in no small part thanks to Mo and Ruth, but it is vital that we carry on this work and make Bedfordshire Police truly representative of the communities we serve.”

In 2016 just 5.7 per cent of Bedfordshire Police officers came from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared to around a quarter of residents living in the county.

Chief Inspector Aziz and PC Honegan helped launch a positive action recruitment campaign by the force to attract more candidates from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, as well as more women and those from other diverse backgrounds, such as Eastern European communities.

The bespoke programme included information events designed for those from BAME backgrounds. Almost 1,000 potential candidates attended the events. The programme also included community engagement and targeted marketing and advertising.

 Proportion of officers from BAME backgrounds nearly doubled

In the first year of the campaign around 30 per cent of the new intake of officers were from BAME backgrounds. Around a quarter of new recruits came from BAME backgrounds the following year.

This nearly doubled the proportion of Bedfordshire Police officers from BAME backgrounds. Jumping from 5.7 per cent to 10.4 per cent over two years.

This rise gave Bedfordshire the third highest proportion of BAME officers of all police forces nationally, behind the Metropolitan Police and West Midlands Police.

The campaign was praised by the National Black Police Association. And nearly half of the country’s 43 police forces have approached Bedfordshire Police to try and learn from the campaign.

The force’s recruitment team is carrying on this work, with further targeted marketing as well as specialist support for new officers. Chief Inspector Aziz said:

“To get recognised by the Queen is a truly humbling moment and undoubtedly the highlight of my professional career.

“When we started this project it was made clear that making Bedfordshire Police more diverse was an operational necessity in order to help us police the county more effectively.

“We have been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic faith groups and community leaders, including many who have been involved in the interview process, in order to build that trust and confidence in Bedfordshire Police as an organisation.

“I am grateful to the many others who contributed to the enormous success we have achieved, as well as to everyone else who has carried forward that work to make Bedfordshire Police a truly inclusive and representative police force.”

PC Honegan said:

“Receiving this honour is amazing to say the least. I am humbled and overwhelmed that my contribution to the organisation in increasing representation from diverse communities has been highlighted for such recognition.

“I am confident that this will highlight the importance of diversity and show that our collective communities share the same values. I will continue to encourage our underrepresented communities to consider policing as a future career, as this can only be seen as a positive step forward for policing both here in Bedfordshire and across the country.

“As vice chair of Bedfordshire Police’s diversity support group, I want to encourage community groups, faith groups and other organisations wanting to have a seat at our table to continue to support Bedfordshire Police in becoming truly reflective of the communities we proudly serve to get in touch with us and help us in this endeavour.”

Bedfordshire Police is continuing to recruit police officers. For more information on the role and how to apply, visit the force’s dedicated recruitment page.