Two Bedfordshire Police officers who have worked to improve diversity in the force’s recruitment are amongst those who have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
They join three Bedford residents and a Cranfield University professor in being named on the prestigious list.
Chief Inspector Mo Aziz and PC Ruth Honegan both receive the British Empire Medal (BEM).
The pair were recognised after helping Bedfordshire Police recruit record numbers from diverse backgrounds.
“Their efforts were integral to ensuring people from black and Asian backgrounds felt like a career in policing could be for them,” said Chief Constable Garry Forsyth.
“It is absolutely imperative that people from all backgrounds can look at us as an organisation and feel that we are representative of their community and understand their concerns.
“We have made great strides in this area in no small part thanks to Mo and Ruth, but it is vital that we carry on this work and make Bedfordshire Police truly representative of the communities we serve.”
In 2016 just 5.7 per cent of Bedfordshire Police officers came from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared to around a quarter of residents living in the county.
To combat this, Chief Inspector Aziz and PC Honegan launched a recruitment campaign to attract more candidates from BAME backgrounds.
The campaign also looked to attract more women from other diverse backgrounds, such as Eastern European communities.
In the first year of the campaign around 30 per cent of the new intake of officers were from BAME backgrounds.
The following year, a quarter of new recruits came from BAME backgrounds the following year.
This nearly doubled the number of officers BAME backgrounds, from 5.7 per cent to 10.4 per cent over two years.
Chief Inspector Aziz said: “To get recognised by the Queen is a truly humbling moment and undoubtedly the highlight of my professional career.
“When we started this project it was made clear that making Bedfordshire Police more diverse was an operational necessity in order to help us police the county more effectively.”
PC Honegan added: “Receiving this honour is amazing to say the least. I am humbled and overwhelmed that my contribution to the organisation in increasing representation from diverse communities has been highlighted for such recognition.
“I am confident that this will highlight the importance of diversity and show that our collective communities share the same values.”
Other Bedford residents who have also been recognised:
Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
- Dr Vaughan Southgate DL, for services to the community in Bedfordshire
Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
- Jane Leech, for services to Monitoring the Immigration Detention Estate
Medallists of the Order of the British Empire (BEM)
- Rani Kaur, for services to the community in Bedfordshire during Covid-19
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University has also been recognised.
Simon Pollard DSc FREng has been awarded an OBE for services to environmental risk management.
“Simon’s leading work on risk and the green economy is greatly respected, and this honour is richly deserved,” said Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Cranfield University’s Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor.
“Simon makes a huge contribution to our University, and his experience has given us global authority in the practicalities of environmental change.”
Professor Pollard heads the School of Water, Energy and the Environment, leading on Centres in environmental risk and decision-making for Defra and the Research Councils.
Simon’s work focusses on good risk governance to support a green economy.
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis said: “I am delighted to hear that so many tremendous people in Bedfordshire have been recognised for their contributions.
“I am especially pleased that some of the many Bedfordshire residents who went above and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic have been included in this Honours list.
“These selfless people worked tirelessly alongside thousands of wonderful volunteers to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our communities were assisted during the most challenging times most of us have ever faced.
“I offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to all the recipients”