police recruits
The scale of the BME representation challenge facing policing is hugeGetty

Police forces across England and Wales need to hire 17,000 black and minority ethnic (BME) officers in the next 10 years if they are to accurately represent society.

A report by the College of Policing (CoP) has estimated that the BME population of England and Wales will be 16% by 2026, and that police forces will have to employ recruits from minority backgrounds at a higher rate if they are to reflect that trend.

Previously released figures show that only 6,500 police officers currently serving come from an ethnic minority background. There are 130,000 officers across England and Wales.

In its leadership review the CoP said: "The scale of the BME representation challenge facing policing is huge."

The findings follow comments by the head of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, that the Met may be institutionally racist. He made the statement during the filming of a documentary currently being aired on the BBC.

The CoP has also said "insular attitudes" within forces are hampering innovation and the image of the police in the eyes of the public.

The college said negative aspects of policing culture could "impede change, prevent internal challenge, restrict innovation and, at worst, damage individual and institutional legitimacy".

It added that this insularity within the police was a natural reaction to personal risk experienced within the day-to-day work but that: "The need for cultural change underpins many of the recommendations of this review and we should not underestimate what a challenge it will be to deliver."

CoP CEO Chief Constable Alex Marshall said: "The leadership review was designed to make sure everybody in policing is equipped to meet the challenges of the future.

"Only by investing in and valuing the people who work in policing will we succeed in overcoming the tough challenges in the next few years."

"I do not underestimate the challenge of delivering these recommendations. While the CoP has a significant part to play, they require a much wider response from across the police service, police and crime commissioners and the Home Office."