Promotion tests are biased, says black police officer

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A "CULTURALLY-BIASED" aptitude test - including a question about the cult TV cartoon series The Simpsons - was blighting promotion hopes for black officers, Superintendent Ali Dizaei said yesterday.

The tests, for entry to ranks above superintendent, also discriminated against black candidates by including slogans from Seventies' adverts promoting milk, he told the first annual conference of the National Black Police Association.

Mr Dizaei, who works for the Metropolitan Police in Kensington, Chelsea and Notting Hill, told NBPA colleagues at Birmingham's International Convention Centre that the tests were "destabilising" for ethnic officers.

Iranian-born Mr Dizaei, who has a PhD in law, confessed he had no idea of the identity of Bart Simpson's mother while taking the general information section of the chief officer extended interview and assessment course in Eastbourne last week.

He called the question "really ridiculous", adding: "The counter-argument is that the test doesn't really count that much, but it does destabilise you for the other tests. This culturally-biased test should be given a decent but final burial."

He agreed the cartoon would be of interest mainly to white viewers. And the milk adverts pre-dated his arrival in the UK.

The 37-year-old officer, vice-chair of the NBPA, said similar barriers in the accelerated promotion scheme for graduates - known as "fast-tracking" - resulted in "ethnic cleansing" of senior police ranks.

"There has not been a single black officer on the fast-track system for four years," he said. "Out of 102 applications by black officers only two reached interview and neither was successful."

The officer, who joined Thames Valley in 1986, said he was waiting to hear if he had passed exams enabling him to apply for a post above the rank of superintendent.

Ambitious black officers are likely to hit a "chicken mesh" at which they are denied promotion, leaving them no choice but to ask the Police Federation for help, Mr Dizaei said.

He also claimed a general interview forming part of the selection process for senior ranks, often conducted by retired British diplomats, further discriminated against ethnic minority candidates.

More than 2,000 black police officers and their civilian colleagues attended yesterday, including leading figures in the criminal justice system and community representatives such as Neville Lawrence, father of the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence.