Are quotas the only way?


by Sunny
26th September, 2006 at 1:42 am    

The commentators from Blink seem to think so:

Deputy chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association, Bevan Powell, has called for a change in the law whereby quota systems for black and ethnic minority communities can be installed to govern the intake of new officers.

Mr Powell was speaking after Gloucestershire Police had to pay £2,500 to one applicant, Matt Powell, after a tribunal heard that 108 potential recruits had been rejected because they were white and male. The MBPA official said that the Government had to look at attainability of the targets currently in place.

I am generally against the idea of quotas because:
1) They create more resentment and can potentially lead to talentless people being brought in.
2) Give the impression that employees from minority groups are there only because of quotas.
3) Should not exist in a society where the potential for achievement, for the vast majority, is roughly the same.
4) Is illiberal, statist and yada yada.

I am however for quotas in certain situations such as in India where they exist for people from lower castes and very disadvantaged backgrounds. This reflects an understanding there is very little equality of opportunity there.

The problem is the police force, especially in London, is woefully under-representative of the community it polices and continues to remain as such. How might this problem be addressed without using quotas?


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  1. Amir — on 26th September, 2006 at 3:29 am  

    I agree with points 1, 2, 3, and 4.

    No so sure about this…

    The problem is the police force, especially in London, is woefully under-representative of the community it polices and continues to remain as such.

    Why should we care about under-representation of skin colour? What you need are good, honest, hardworking and reliable coppers. Their skin colour is irrelevant to those criteria.

  2. Raj — on 26th September, 2006 at 9:11 am  

    I agree with Amir.
    After all we aren’t calling for a cap on the number of asian doctors to ensure that they aren’t over represented in the NHS are we?

  3. Scroll_Lock — on 26th September, 2006 at 10:12 am  

    There are several reasons to have more non-white officers;

    it presents a more friendly face of the police to non-whites,

    it encourages non-whites to feel included in mainstream society instead of feeling that they are being kept down or separate from it,

    it provides role-models to younger non-whites.

  4. Leon — on 26th September, 2006 at 10:22 am  

    How might this problem be addressed without using quotas?

    You can’t without quotas, at least not in the short term.

    Long term wise you do the obvious; you eradicate racism from society if you don’t want institutions like the police to be racist…

  5. Leon — on 26th September, 2006 at 10:24 am  

    Although, that said and it might be a bit extreme and a little orwellian but it’s possible in the short term this might work: http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/70801.html

    New psychological tests designed to screen police applicants for indications of racism could be used to root out sectarianism and sexism.

    Chief officers revealed yesterday that the tests should be introduced to all the forces as soon as spring 2007.
    Those with extreme negative scores could be barred from joining the service altogether and it is hoped that in future the psychological profiling test could be used to identify sectarian or sexist applicants.

    The tests have been developed by academics at Strathclyde University following the screening of a BBC documentary, which uncovered racism in new police recruits in England and Wales in 2003.

    Speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) conference at Tulliallan yesterday, Peter Thickett, the association’s spokesman on training, said the tests could potentially be used to screen for a range of issues including sectarianism.
    “We have looked at whether we could work gender into this too and it could be a diversity screener. In spring next year it will go Scotland-wide. It has real potential in the future in relation to integrity and ethics. If people are going into highly sensitive areas such as CID, it will be useful to have an insight into their ethical background.”

    The tests assess how people would react in situations, such as seeing a person peering into a house letter box, and then vary the scenario. Applicants will be scored on a scale compared with normal reactions.
    NEW psychological tests designed to screen police applicants for indications of racism could be used to root out sectarianism and sexism.

    Chief officers revealed yesterday that the tests should be introduced to all the forces as soon as spring 2007.
    Those with extreme negative scores could be barred from joining the service altogether and it is hoped that in future the psychological profiling test could be used to identify sectarian or sexist applicants.

    The tests have been developed by academics at Strathclyde University following the screening of a BBC documentary, which uncovered racism in new police recruits in England and Wales in 2003.

  6. Chris Stiles — on 26th September, 2006 at 10:43 am  


    After all we aren’t calling for a cap on the number of asian doctors to ensure that they aren’t over represented in the NHS are we?

    Actually, there have been various mutterings within the BMA to call for just that

  7. Scroll_Lock — on 26th September, 2006 at 10:46 am  

    Quotas can certainly be double-edged. Several years ago the Californians voted against affirmative action in colleges. Consequently, the numbers of Asian-American students shot waaaaayyy up!

  8. Kismet Hardy — on 26th September, 2006 at 11:15 am  

    Since moving to London, I’ve noticed my new local bank is exclusively staffed by black customer services. It’s a mostly black area I live in. Did I feel more comfortable getting my overdraft turned down by someone closer to my shade than the white workers that used to refuse me in brighton? Nope.

    Does a white middle class gentleman feel his eggs are less round because he bought them off an Asian grocer? Nope.

    If I get busted for carrying smack in my pants, will I feel refreshed that I got banged up by an Asian policeman? Nope.

    Get people that are good at their jobs. Don’t discriminate against black people, women and homosexuals by all means, but don’t discriminate against a white guy who just wants to do a job he’s good at either

  9. Jagdeep — on 26th September, 2006 at 11:50 am  

    Quotas make me cringe.

    What if a community excels at something? Should they have their ‘quota’ reduced or restricted? Look at the amount of Indians in medical school and you’ll know what I mean. It also fills up more quangoes and gives opportunities for ‘Me! ME! ME!’ identity politicians to gain leverage in public space and squeal discrimination and bolster their grievances (old communalists like the Sikh Federation and others)

    Different groups should be ENCOURAGED and targetted for recruitment if that is so desired, but there should be no quotas in place. It takes time (at least a generation of two) for minority groups to disperse throught the public and private sectors in all fields of society, this should be allowed to take its natural course.

  10. Jagdeep — on 26th September, 2006 at 11:55 am  

    Chris Stiles

    Actually, there have been various mutterings within the BMA to call for just that

    Really? Is that in terms of overseas doctors or British Asians applying to medical school? I can’t believe it is the latter. If the former, then I imagine it is just part of the protectionist impulse and wanting to provide more opportunities for British doctors. If the latter, then that is clear prejudice.

  11. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:01 pm  

    Tricky one, this. I’m massively against quotas as we’re supposed to be a free and fair society, and there’s nothing free or fair about them.

    On the other hand, the police do possibly the most important job there is, and I think they can do that job far better if seen as representative by the local people. Though I am sceptical over whether those involved in crime or close to the criminal world will actually be more likely to assist the police even if they do see more officers from their own community. There will always be an us against them mentality to some extent.

    For psychological testing I’m unconvinced. I did a trick cycling thingy once to find out if I was a racist. It was about 10 minutes of looking at words and faces, to test whether you assigned more “good” words to those faces that were your own ethnicity, and “bad” words to those that weren’t, all in quickfire time. I thus discovered I was a racist, but I’m not sure that should discount my joining the police force as if the test had included people of my own ethnicity dressed like Goths or something I’d have put the big bad word on them, too.

  12. Jagdeep — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:03 pm  

    Did I feel more comfortable getting my overdraft turned down by someone closer to my shade than the white workers that used to refuse me in brighton? Nope

    I know what you mean KH – it’s so patronising. Like we are so insecure that we’ll collapse and develop agoraphobia if we don’t ‘see faces’ with the same colour of skin as us, oh the oppression!

    by the way – a GORA phobia – that could be fear of white people too.

  13. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:05 pm  

    https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

    This was the test. Please, someone else do it and admit to being a racist too. :(

  14. Jagdeep — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:07 pm  

    Bert Preast

    I think the policing thing, strategies could be devised to encourage more ethnic minority applicants without anti-white quotas being implemented. Simple things like recruiting locally, where the net that gathers recruits will always then include a more representative sampling of the local ethnic make up, targetted recruitment campaigns, high profile, to encourage those things.

  15. Jagdeep — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:10 pm  

    Dont worry about it Bert, those tests are bogus.

  16. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:19 pm  

    Jagdeep – I thought they were already doing all of that, and it isn’t working?

  17. Scroll_Lock — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:20 pm  

    I do agree that quotas cause resentment, and may do more damage with regard to race relations. But some of the criticism against them also comes from those who are against the very principle of multicultural society in the first place. We mustn’t be blind to that.

    We do not live in a fair in equal society, and it is becoming even less so. If people believe in the principle of equality and democracy, how then do you make the changes necessary to reduce the inequality? By leaving things alone is only going to let the dominant and repressive social forces endure.

    Post 14 seems like a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. As long as people remember that quotas are a short-term solution to nudge things in the right direction, they might stand some chance of success. But giving into to bigots, traditionalists and short-sightedness isn’t going to get people very far.

  18. sonia — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:22 pm  

    Quotas in India still have had the same effect: resentment. It seems as if people don’t accept that those people were from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    I think employers can be ‘encouraging’ and offer equality of access without resorting to ‘quotas’. quotas are fixed and rigid..

  19. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:28 pm  

    Thinking about police recruiting locally, how long have they been doing that for? When I was in the UK if you joined the police you were specifically sent somewhere other than where you lived, at least for your first 10 years service – the rationale being that you wouldn’t then be tempted to treat old friends different to everyone else, because you wouldn’t have any old friends in the new area. Probably cut down quite a lot on corruption.

  20. Don — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:28 pm  

    Bert,

    I did those tests and apparently find white Americans slightly more threatening than black Americans. Must be all those sub-Deliverance movies I watched; hyuh, hyuh, we got him now, bubba!

  21. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:30 pm  

    And if we see quotas, will we also see more “blacking up” as a load of white boys desperately try to convince the sergeant that they are in fact black. Probably with lots of rapping and other things nobody in their right mind wants to encourage.

  22. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:31 pm  

    Thanks Don. It’s good to know there are plenty of racists out there.

  23. Kismet Hardy — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:35 pm  

    The only reason I want to see black or Asian faces in the police and army is to know that it isn’t so racist that black or Asian people can’t hack it. But that doesn’t change two things: All white coppers aren’t racist, some black and Asian coppers are.

    And they all go and kill people on the other side of the world

    Quotas are there for those who rely on quotes and we all know those are people who can’t speak for themselves

    Cryptic stoner shit.com

  24. Jagdeep — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:37 pm  

    As long as people remember that quotas are a short-term solution to nudge things in the right direction, they might stand some chance of success

    They never stay short term though. Once in place, and all the infrastructure is there, and the quangoes and commissions and jobsworths in place, and the identity politician jerk offs have their slice of the pie, they will be EXTREMELY difficult to do away with. Britain is not crippled with the kind of inequality that India or America is in some sectors, and there is plenty that those struggling communities can do INTERNALLY to improve their employment and achievment levels. That’s not to say that government shouldnt play a role in monitoring, encouraging, specifically targetting recruits. But just wait and see how this would transmogrify into gravy trains and excuses for mediocrity and failure, and communalist groups would rub their hands with glee at the chance to get a slice of the pie and make demands for money, funding etc to further fracture society.

  25. Jagdeep — on 26th September, 2006 at 12:39 pm  

    And if we see quotas, will we also see more “blacking up” as a load of white boys desperately try to convince the sergeant that they are in fact black.

    LoL

    And you’d probably get the Independent doing an outraged, foot stomping headline saying how disgraceful and insulting it is! Fools….

  26. Rakhee — on 26th September, 2006 at 1:14 pm  

    I think the impact of quotas can be a good thing. I’ll give you a scenario.

    You’re an editor of a newspaper and you want to send out a reporter to, for example, a riot which has broken out about a religious issue in a Muslim area.

    You have 2 reporters, both equally intelligent and both more than capable of doing a good job. One is Muslim and one is not. Who would you send? To be honest, I’d probably send the Muslim guy because he will already be in tune with the issue, perhaps connect naturally with the people out there and may actually produce a better piece of work because of his background.

    The problem arises when the editor decides to send out the Muslim reporter when he is NOT as good as the other but based purely on his cultural bground. That’s when it starts to go horribly wrong…

  27. Kismet Hardy — on 26th September, 2006 at 1:21 pm  

    An editor with integrity?

    Suspend disbelief and take a leap of faith.org

  28. Clairwil — on 26th September, 2006 at 1:26 pm  

    ARRRGGGH! I cannot stand quotas. It’s like that all female shortlist nonsense that politicians get worked up about every time there’s an election. All any organisation can do if it wishes to attract employees from a particular background is target it’s advertising and take a firm line on discrimination within it’s ranks.

    Now I’m off to do Bert’s test and see just how racist I am.

  29. Kismet Hardy — on 26th September, 2006 at 1:42 pm  

    I did Preast’s test:

    ‘Your data suggest a moderate automatic preference for White People compared to Black People’

    Crikey

  30. Sunny — on 26th September, 2006 at 1:42 pm  

    We’re not talking here of quotas in general. This is more about quotas in the police force, which is a special case given these are the people required to connect with local communities.

  31. bananabrain — on 26th September, 2006 at 1:53 pm  

    i did the test too. apparently i have little to no automatic preference for white people to black people. i’m pleased obviously, so someone’s doing something right. mind you, i’m a musician, so i’d expect to have a lot better hand control.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  32. Kismet Hardy — on 26th September, 2006 at 1:58 pm  

    I often fear my hand is being controlled

    The illuminati wants me to wank 33 times

    I have proof

  33. bananabrain — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:01 pm  

    ooh, i noticed there was one for whether i like arab muslims or not and it seems that i also have little or not preference. perhaps my cultural biases are cancelling each other out.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  34. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:03 pm  

    The test explained I was a raving racist but unfortunately was a little short on how I could go about curing this affliction. To help out other sufferers, after a little research I’ve found beer, drugs and Kismet Hardy work quite well at keeping the most painful symptoms in check.

  35. sonia — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:17 pm  

    the way to address is to encourage people to join the police force that’s how! and if people want more ‘ethnic minorities’ to join the force then maybe the police force need to do some campaigning in that group. perhaps making the force seem less unpleasant might be a way to encourage the general public to be more interested. Who would be a policeman anyway? it’s a lousy job.

  36. sonia — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:19 pm  

    Raising salaries for everyone might help – money talks.

  37. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:21 pm  

    We need PC McGarry number 452. And other big, friendly policemen.

    I wonder if the laws on durgs have adversely affected relations between the police and the community? I remember they rather annoyed me.

  38. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:22 pm  

    Sonia – it’s already hardly fair that a trainee copper at Hendon earns substantially more than a fully trained infantryman sweating his cods off in Iraq. You’d have to raise the pay for everyone.

  39. bananabrain — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:26 pm  

    we’re never going to get anywhere until we make drugs legal anyway. at present we’re wasting the police’s time, taxpayers’ money and everyone’s effort, whilst removing a large section of the economy from the tax base.

    how much better it would be if you knew what you were consuming and could sue someone if they sold you some bad shit? and of course they’d be paying tax, pension contributions etc…. think of the money that could be put into healthcare and saved from law enforcement!

    b’shalom

    bananabrain (who, incidentally has never had so much as a cigarette, not that i’m boasting, because i do consume more than my fair share of everyone’s favourite drug, alcohol)

  40. Kismet Hardy — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:28 pm  

    “I wonder if the laws on durgs have adversely affected relations between the police and the community”

    I must say I’m getting less grief from police in general than in yesterday. While my tattoos, ridiculous haircut and dodgy dress sense makes my profile perfect for those out to catch a druggie, it’s rather unlikely I might have a recipe for polymer-bonded explosives tucked into my y-fronts.

    Coppers are out to seek validation from their superiors just as much as the next work slave. Much better to turn in an extremist than a stoner freak.

    I’ll smoke to that

  41. Leon — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:29 pm  

    o join the force then maybe the police force need to do some campaigning in that group.

    They could also explain the 1000 deaths in police custody: http://www.injusticefilm.co.uk/

  42. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:32 pm  

    MORE DURGS

  43. Jai — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

    =>”by the way – a GORA phobia – that could be fear of white people too.”

    Hilarious — free Mars bar to Jagdeep again.

    We can use this everytime some victim-mentality Asian dude starts unjustifiably blaming all his problems on “whitey”, “The Man”, and generally feeling “oppressed” by some random white person purely because of the latter’s ethnicity.

  44. Jai — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:43 pm  

    =>”bananabrain (who, incidentally has never had so much as a cigarette, not that i’m boasting, because i do consume more than my fair share of everyone’s favourite drug, alcohol)”

    No smoking ? Too much booze ?

    Somebody make Bananabrain an honourary (and slightly-lapsed) Sikh quick.

  45. Kismet Hardy — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:43 pm  

    Hey, if someone talks out of his backside and you quote him, are you someone who likes to… quotas?

    Hm.

  46. Refresh — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:45 pm  

    I got this:

    “Your data suggest little to no automatic preference between European American and African American.”

  47. Sid — on 26th September, 2006 at 2:58 pm  

    you’re a racist with good hand-eye coordination,

  48. Kismet Hardy — on 26th September, 2006 at 3:02 pm  

    I mean I won’t lie. I like that my spunk is white. I’d fucking freak if it turned out black

  49. bananabrain — on 26th September, 2006 at 3:13 pm  

    sat-sree akal!! – and pass the jack daniels.

    *sticks on a pug and jumps on jai’s shoulders for traditional pissed wedding dance*

    b’shalom

    bananabinder

  50. Sunny — on 26th September, 2006 at 3:49 pm  

    Did someone mention Jack Daniels?

    Back to the point, is anyone actually disputing it is important for the police to be fairly representative of the area they cover?

  51. Kismet Hardy — on 26th September, 2006 at 3:51 pm  

    I don’t think anyone is happier knowing there are more black/asian coppers out there

    I think they’re more interested in knowing whether there are less racist/psycho coppers out there

  52. BevanKieran — on 26th September, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

    How might this problem be addressed without using quotas?

    I remember watching a documentary about the army a few years ago. When asked about recruitment from ethnic minorities, a large intake of 2000 or so Fijians (in addition to the established Gurkha units), the recruitment officer said something along the lines of:

    “It’s important we get black faces into the army”.

    If it was simply about getting black or brown faces into the police, then why not recruit abroad? However, unlike the army, where recruitment among the population as a whole is low, it seems that perfectly decent applicants for the police are being turned away because they are the wrong colour. In the U.K, quotas are a bad idea.

  53. ZinZin — on 26th September, 2006 at 6:20 pm  

    Back to the point, is anyone actually disputing it is important for the police to be fairly representative of the area they cover?

    I actually do.
    Anyone living in a high crime area would like a copper to respond to any complaint about anti-social behaviour or criminal activity regardless of colour.

  54. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 7:05 pm  

    BevanKieran – the army HAS to recruit abroad, because our over-educated youth are above the infantry these days. They’re currently paying bounties to get people back in or for suckering some poor punk into signing up. It seems a nation of 60 million is struggling so badly to produce 30000 men who want to be soldiers that we must look abroad.

    I’ve no problem with this having served alongside Fijians and Gurkhas and found them as good as the Brits. Gurkhas have their own units while Fijians are spread around with the rest, mostly down to language. As long as the recruiting stays in the grounds of those with a tradition of sterling service to the British army it’s just dandy, but ffs we have to keep it in those areas.

    It’d be nice to see some old Sikh and Bengali regiments revived – I’m pretty sure there would be interest from the communities at home and abroad in joining. Though obviously the officers must remain British – the joke about what colour their privates are is just too good to risk losing.

    And no, I don’t think you can recruit policemen abroad. The training’s not that good.

  55. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 7:08 pm  

    ZinZin – The trouble is that if they see the police as some sort of occupation force they won’t contact them at all. Skin colour or background doesn’t necessarily make them representative as Kismet pointed out, but it’s a good way to get them perceived as “on your side”.

  56. ZinZin — on 26th September, 2006 at 7:20 pm  

    Bert

    Explain this “occupation force” argument. The police are perceived as lazy and ineffective by a lot of people. I doubt they are an occupying force in any part of the UK.

  57. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 7:34 pm  

    Well their traditional nickname in my background is “the other firm”. The enemy.

  58. ZinZin — on 26th September, 2006 at 7:52 pm  

    Police not popular in your area not really a shock is it.

  59. Bert Preast — on 26th September, 2006 at 8:56 pm  

    I can’t say I’m not partly to blame. :D

  60. fugstar — on 26th September, 2006 at 9:18 pm  

    ooo a kettle of worms.

    in south asian and malay contexts, a differential historical disadvantage seeded by colonisation (power snatch) does exist.

    i dont know the answers, least of all the policy fixes.

    how about

    time
    patience
    and justice?

  61. Chairwoman — on 26th September, 2006 at 9:32 pm  

    The only way to get young men to join the police, is for it to become in some way cool.

    BTW an old Newton motoway game was how many slang terms could we find for the police. I can only think of 12, how about anyone else?

    Sorry, Sunny.

  62. Katy Newton — on 26th September, 2006 at 10:03 pm  

    I hate quotas.

    Firstly, because they’re deeply patronising to the employed; men at my workplace often talk about the need to employ “more women”, which leaves the ones who are already employed with the unsettling impression that the qualifications for which we slaved and went into considerable debt turned out to be less important than the fact that we have vaginas;

    and secondly, because a quota can very easily turn into an upper limit: “Right, we’ve got to hire X women to fill our quota and then we can go back to ignoring the qualified women and getting some men like us in again.”

    and thirdly, (but really mainly), if what we are trying to achieve is to get people away from judging on the basis of colour or background and into the mindset of looking at people as individuals, trying to achieve that by making employers look for a certain number of employees of a particular ethnicity, sexuality or gender is like fucking for virginity.

    Quotas deprive minority employees of the security that comes with knowing that they got their job on merit, and drives a wedge between them and their non-minority co-workers.

  63. Refresh — on 26th September, 2006 at 10:08 pm  

    SId, don’t you wish we could drive out racism and bigotry just by improving people’s hand-eye co-ordination.

  64. Kulvinder — on 27th September, 2006 at 12:03 am  

    What Katy said. Besides im not sure how in a society thats increasingly mixed and diverse you’ll pigeonhole people who have a multiracial/cultural background.

  65. Bert Preast — on 27th September, 2006 at 11:52 am  

    Refresh wrote: “SId, don’t you wish we could drive out racism and bigotry just by improving people’s hand-eye co-ordination.”

    Making them shoot straighter, you mean?

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