EFFORTS to make the region’s police more diverse and representative are “stymied” by slow staff turnover, the commissioner has said.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said it was a good thing that employees stay with the force for long periods, but it did slow the pace of change.

He was replying to Councillor Kuldip Sahota, who is also Labour’s nominee to challenge him in next May’s election, who asked him if the officers policing the town were, like the population of Telford itself, approximately 10 per cent black, Asian or minority ethnic.

Conservative Mr Campion said he aimed to make the workforce “representative of the community it serves” force-wide, but said officers were not rigidly assigned to towns.

Cllr Sahota, who is a member of the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel, pointed out that West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson had recently pledged to recruit 1,000 new officers from BAME backgrounds.

Cllr Sahota asked Mr Campion if he had similar plans.

Mr Campion said he had pledged a more diverse force when he stood for election as PCC in 2016, and it had been in his Police and Crime Plans ever since.

“Now, we are slightly stymied by the fact that, obviously, we have different ethnic make-ups in different areas,” he said.

“We are also stymied by the fact that we are slow in staff turnover – people work for the police for a good time, which is a good thing.”

Mr Campion said his regular “holding to account” meetings with Chief Constable Anthony Bangham “focus on and include the fact that our recruitment strategies are ensuring that the police is representative of the community that it serves”.

Mr Campion said: “I’m not the PCC just for Telford and the chief constable is the chief constable for West Mercia. The police officers who patrol in Telford aren’t just officers for Telford. It is a whole organisation.

“I wouldn’t say to you we would just put our BME officers in a certain area, because that’s not how it works. The organisation serves all geographic parts of the area and, for me, that drive has to be that, organisationally, we represent the communities we serve.

“It would be disproportionate to try to do it on a geography basis and also not in the interests of those who want careers within West Mercia Police.

“I want to take away all barriers within the organisation to make sure we have not only the right applicants, but those applicants can also thrive within the organisation.”