The Metropolitan Police Authority’s equality chairperson has hit back at claims that plans to ask officers to declare their sexuality are about “political correctness.”

Metropolitan Police chief, Sir Ian Blair presented the policy this week setting out plans to gain an accurate quota of gay and lesbian officers in the police force.

Kirsten Hearn, head of the Metropolitan Police Authority’s Equal Opportunities and Diversity Board, said: “I want to put it firmly on record that the decision to capture data on a voluntary basis about individuals’ sexual orientation is not about political correctness or attempts to recruit more Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) officers and staff.

“It is about ensuring that we have a representative workforce that has the knowledge and skills for successfully policing London’s many and diverse communities, reflects the composition of those communities and help us to become an employer of choice.

“Everyone, including the Gay Police Association, is in agreement that to capture the data will be of value.”

She was reacting to claims from Conservative spokesman Nick Herbert, who accused Mr Blair of positive discrimination, he told the Daily Mail, “Sexual orientation is a private matter. If people want to disclose it voluntarily that is fine but they should not be forced or put under pressure to do so.”

“The principle that police should be representative of the community they serve – including sexual orientation – is the right one, but positive discrimination is not the way.”

Ms Hearn added, “To make it as clear as possible I will reiterate the message that the data captured is not intended to inform positive discriminatory recruitment policies, to do so would be both illegal and contrary to all of our existing policies.”