POLICE are visiting East Lancashire job centres in a bid to recruit women and people who are gay, lesbian or from ethnic minorities.

Teams from Lancashire Constabulary will be out in force in job centres in Accrington, Bacup, Blackburn, Burnley, Darwen, Nelson and Rawtenstall from 10am till 5pm on Wednesday.

Alongside personnel staff will be officers who are homosexual, and officers from ethnic minorities, to tell the story of life in the force.

Police said they decided to pro-actively seek people from those backgrounds as they are typically hard to reach.

Police constable Mebs Ahmed, the force's ethnic minority liaison, recruitment and selection officer, said: "The importance of such events cannot be underestimated. The events are an essential tool to help us form important partnerships with local organisations such as Job Centre Plus, while giving us the opportunity to access a huge variety of people."

Sergeant Karen Edwards, who organised the events, added: "We want to see a police service which fully reflects and protects all our diverse communities."

Police are trying to recruit an extra 150 officers by next April, paid for by an increase in the police council tax precept.

The force, which has a current strength of around 3,600 officers, has also staged recruitment fairs for people from all backgrounds. But police bosses are keen to recruit people from ethnic minorities to hit a government target.

There are currently 97 officers from ethnic minorities, but the force needs to have 111 by April.

Concern has also been raised at the lack of women in management roles in the force. While there is no government target, the constabulary is trying to raise the number of women from the current level of 33 per cent of force strength.

The force has no figures on the number of gay and lesbian officers as it is not allowed to officially ask an employee's sexuality.

Police officers will also be at Asda, Grimshaw Park, Blackburn, tomorrow from 3-7pm in a bid to recruit special constables.