Nearly eight out of 10 of those standing to be police and crime commissioners are white men.
Analysis by The Independent has found that of 192 confirmed candidates for the £100,000-a-year posts next month, just 35 are women. Only 13 are either black or Asian. It is feared that a lack of black and Asian commissioners could lead to further alienation between police and ethnic-minority communities.
The findings deliver a blow to the credibility of the 41 commissioners championed by David Cameron and raise questions about the Government's commitment to equality.
There is already mounting criticism of the calibre of the candidates, who include a number of former MPs, councillors, ex-police officers and members of the far-right, amid warnings that a lack of public interest could see the turnout drop below 20 per cent.
The analysis reveals that the Conservatives are fielding six women and one Asian male candidate, compared to Labour which has 15 women. Only two of Labour's 41 candidates are from ethnic minorities. The Lib Dems are fielding four women – one more than UKIP – and two Asian candidates although the party is only contesting 24 force areas. Meanwhile, of 55 independent candidates 48 are male while eight are black or Asian. The only area where a woman is guaranteed to win is in North Yorkshire where the election is being fought between two female candidates. The Home Office has hailed the commissioners as the biggest democratic reform of the police in decades. They will determine strategy for policing in their areas and hold chief constables to account.
Simon Woolley founder of Operation Black Vote and an Equality and Human Rights Commissioner, said the lack of diversity among the candidates was a matter of "great concern".
"It is symptomatic of politics across the board. There is barely any discussion about representative democracy even more so when it comes to these elections. Mr Woolley said he was "deeply worried" about the absence of black or ethnic minority candidates in areas with high ethnic populations such as West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Avon.
Issues such as stop and search, racial profiling, prevent and contest anti-terrorism legislation and poor rates of detection for racial and hate crimes are a major source of sensitivity among communities.
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