Berkshire

Reading police boss wants more female BAME officers

Supt Bhupinder Rai Image copyright TVP
Image caption Supt Bhupinder Rai had never met or spoken to a police officer before joining Thames Valley Police

A new police chief has said she hopes to inspire more women from black and Asian communities to become officers.

Supt Bhupinder Rai said BAME women had an "understanding" and a "subconscious knowledge" which could help tackle honour-based abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

She said she would like to see officer numbers return "to pre-austerity" levels to reduce violent crime.

Supt Rai started as Reading commander for Thames Valley Police on 1 August.

In her first interview with the BBC, Supt Rai said that when she retires she would like to leave behind a force "significantly different to when I started".

She said officers from black and Asian communities could "sensitively deal" with crimes such as domestic abuse that "disproportionately affect" women.

"It's really important to bring that understanding, that subconscious knowledge into policing if you are ever going to make any movement on some of those things," she added.

Racism on patrol

Supt Rai said that before she set out on a career in the force she thought "people like me don't really do policing".

"I was a young Asian girl and in those times there weren't very many people who looked like me who did policing," she added.

She passed her entry tests and has "never looked back" since she started her career in Slough in 1992.

Supt Rai said she encountered racism while on patrol as a PC but there have been "many sorts of improvements" in reporting and dealing with incidents of racism.

The commander said her priorities were to reduce violent crime, drug supply and demand for drugs in Reading.

But she admitted forces "can't provide the service that we would always like to" and voiced concerns over officer numbers and experience levels.

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