Jack Straw is keen to repair the damage done following the inquiry into the Lawrence murder, the report into which is due shortly, not only in the eyes of Britain's ethnic community but also regain the confidence of the country as a whole.
He has told chief constables in England and Wales to recruit at least seven per cent of their officers from ethnic minorities. The national target will be imposed with a quota system introduced to make sure forces comply.
The national quota will even apply to those forces whose population is overwhelmingly white.
Mr Straw signalled his new strategy while addressing the Home Affairs select committee, indicating that he was clearly not impressed with efforts of chief constables to deal effectively with issues of race.
He revealed that a fifth of the forces in England and Wales had fewer than 10 officers from an ethnic minority background. Of the 127,000 police officers just 2,500 are black or Asian and 865 of those are based in London.
He said: "I want to see all forces set targets to recruit black and asian police including those forces which happened to think they are wholly white areas."
Forces which have come under scrutiny include Cheshire, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire forces with seven black and asian officers, Dorset has six, Devon and Cornwall five, Cumbria and North Wales two and Dyfed- Powis has only one. Only the Metropolitan Police appeared to be improving recruitment.
And the committee was also told of the failure of the police service's accelerated promotion scheme for ethnic candidates.
Not one black or Asian candidate that has applied since the scheme's inception five years ago had been successful. Of the 85 officers to apply for the 13 places on the scheme in 1998 not one had been chosen.Reuse content