Affirmative Action, (AI), as a concept has been muted within policing for many many years. As a concept, affirmative action is wholly supported by the National Black Police Association UK, (NBPA), and by internal academics such as Dizaie, but what is it? In answering this question as a member of the NBPA and someone that has represented my own Force at the NBPA I am not entirely convinced that even the NBPA movement fully understand the concept of AI. And this is unsurprising for the only real academic currently within the NBPA movement that holds a position of power is Dizaie.
The objective of AI is to allow people from under represented groups the equal opportunity to get in so that they can compete on an equal footing with their peers from the majority. For example skilling Black or Asian people up to behave White is typical of what AI currently means to policing leaders even today.
Both the service and the NBPA support a Personal Leadership Program for minority ethnic staff, but in essence the course methodology does not focus on course participants realising they are different, and may have prejudices for prejudices appear to be sold as a White illness. This course pursues a view that in order to move on they must change their behaviours and acquiesce. Whilst this program is sold as AI, it is nothing of the sort. Police Leaders like Commander Gibson of the Met and Norman Bettison who led on this project have totally mis-sold the meaning of AI to benefit the majority group.
What then is AI? In it's purest sense AI should involve a wholesome approach to race relations for example. Race does not stand in isolation to other policing issues; it is part and parcel of policing. AI should encourage practices and attitudes that break the glass ceiling so that competent minority ethnic colleagues can progress based on their skills and merits. They should not be held back because they challenge racial injustice or because they eat different food or practice their faith differently. They should not be held back by racism.
The concept of AI should be structural and able to acknowlegde Black colleagues that stand up for the difference between right and wrong in relation to race relations. There are few and far between. The average person will put their career first. It should incorporate a culture, which does not lead police leaders to become defensive when challenged, to deny racism, but instead, it should encourage them to be more honest and able to understand how others view issues, especially those that are affected by disadvantage. This is AI.
An AI culture might also ensure that "Mavericks" are allowed in and welcomed as opposed to being left on the periphery of the organisation labelled as radicals. In all, AI is the removal of institutional barriers that cause racism and treat minority ethnic people of colour unfairly in comparison with some of their White counterparts.
Interestingly at last years Police Federation Conference, (2006). Conference rejected supporting affirmative action and in essence Conference rejected what they feared most, real race change, real change that the police service has still not experienced since the race riots of the 1980's. We are in a period of false race relations and games.
Police Leaders have been promoted on many race policies and strategies, but none of these policies have led to AI or in other words an equal opportunity between Black and White Officers, as there is still a mentality of face fit syndrome. The reality is that even the Federation does not understand the concept of AI or race equality.
Certainly those Mavericks that do challenge racial injustice are viewed as a thorn in the side and the ones that are internally mentored are the one's that might not be as competent as the Maverick, but are nonetheless able to say, "yes sir" without upsetting the ego's and understanding of police leaders, Leaders who know nothing about AI, or race equality, and whose sole purpose is to maintain the inequality that promoted them in the first place and cloud their personal lack of understanding with Liberal politics. There are plenty of Minority ethnic officer's that will say "yes sir" just for promotion and these are the ones currently being mentored. The question though is, are they the most competent? Or is the police service just playing plantation politics, as Serendib would say?
This is type for type mirror promotion. AI is not reverse discrimination; on the contrary it's aim is to put an end to the untold word, the backroom chats, the gossip, the collusion, and the racial discrimination that assist some White colleagues against their minority ethnic counterparts. AI is real race equality, but all it really is in policing in 2007 is a mere concept of fodder. Without any thought positive discrimination of a few Black officer's may tip this boat, especially if those that are thrusted forwards are not competent, and technically that is exactly what tends to happen. And when that does happen everyone from that group will be labelled negatively. Liberal politics in race relations simply won't work.