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          • Year: 2014
          • How Equality, Diversity, and Police Practices in the UK Can Help Police Reform

          • Examples of good practices that exist in the British police system which are central to protecting the rights of diverse community members, as well as creating an equitable workplace for all employees were the topic of the interview which Bob Eastwood, a retired Chief Superintendent who had been responsible for Diversity and Community Cohesion within the Constabulary of Lancashire, gave to Aurelija Djan, Junior Researcher from the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy.

        • Could you introduce the main idea of the Diversity and Community Cohesion unit within the Lancashire Constabulary?

          It is basically a unit that was there to ensure that the organization delivers their service equitably and that all members of staff treat each other, and people that they come into contact with, with dignity and respect. There are Diversity Champions in each division and department, responsible for delivering the Equality, Diversity, and Human Rights Strategy for the police service.  There is an Action plan underpinning this. In addition, we have recruitment, retention, and progression pieces of work. It is important to make all staff, in particular minority staff such as black and ethnic minority groups, gay people, and women, enjoy being in the police service and feel that they have equal opportunity  to succeed similar to their counterparts who are in the majority.  In this way the organisation performs better, the public gets a better service because all staff support each other and feel part of the team. Treating others with dignity and respect is integral to the role of the police in a modern, democratic society which aims for citizens to trust them and have confidence in them so that they feel safe and protected from crime. 

           

          Explain a bit more how this system works in practice? 

          For example, I had focus groups with Muslim members of staff, who told me that sometimes in the canteen at work the serving utensils may be contaminated by pork. So we spoke to the suppliers of the food, making sure that the food is completely separate. That is so simple but has a big impact on members of staff who, quite clearly, do not want to have their religious beliefs compromised. This approach works in many different ways so that they feel part of the organisation they work for. 

          What do you do on a daily basis in order to improve and encourage diversity within police units?

          Working on diversity issues is about understanding how the police service is treating the staff, and how the police deliver the services. The Action plan was developed, and continuously reviewed and refreshed, so we use its features that make it relevant to people. For example, I mentored a number of female and black minority ethnic staff to give them encouragement to participate in career development and seek promotion. That was very successful because we ended up with more people with diverse backgrounds achieving higher positions within the police service. This means that when there are opportunities to progress they have the confidence that these opportunities are equal to everybody. The way you treat people is linked into the leadership model that values staff and their contribution so that the staff feels supported.

          How do you choose Diversity Champions?

          They are all chosen by the senior rank and they obviously haveto have some belief that diversity matters and that diversity works.  It is about making diversity real to people rather than having a series of high level strategic documents. I often refer to this as operationalising diversity, making it real and linked to providing citizens with a good police service.

          Could you provide a few more effective examples of good practice regarding diversity and equality?  

          The Prevention and Retention Strategy works well, because we end up with more females in specialists departments. We did some very simple things, such as changing the type of motorcycle that was better for women to handle. We also changed the gun we use in order to make it easier to handle for women, more precisely in its weight. We also held a number of events during which members of the staff came to experience different things. We had a lady who is a wheelchair user describe her experiences being disabled and her views on how the police officers police her neighborhood and how we respond to complaints that she may have if she is targeted for disability. We also had people with mental health issues and gypsy Roma travelers, and they explained the impact the police have on their community, so people are learning from each other all the time.

          I assume that there always is a need to train and encourage police officers in order to continuously raise their awareness on different human rights issues. How do you achieve this?

          The worst thing you can do is to put on a program that specifically deals with diversity. Instead, you have to tailor every single program to consider issues around a variety of issues which affect people from minority communities. You should deliver training through operational scenarios and never just set off on a course about respecting diversity, because it would actually put people off. Respect for diversity is about people’s attitudes and beliefs, and people generally feel very uncomfortable about that. I think that attitudes and values are better challenged or that issues people have are better provoked with scenarios which are about operational matters. For example, you deal with arrested people and you could talk about transgender persons and how you are going to treat them, and my response to that would be to ask them how they want to be treated. So, a male who is transitioned to a female would more than likely be referred to as a woman. Therefore, if you have a police officer who refers to a transitioned female as a man, that would give rise to complaints against the police. That would mean that transgender people may lack confidence in the police as a service. So, rather than have a course on how you should treat transgender people, you can deliver it in a much more appropriate and safer environment.  This approach has significant benefits. The police are more effective when they are trusted and citizens have confidence in them. Putting this into some context, we are more likely to get witnesses to speak to us to help bring offenders to justice when we are trusted and people have confidence in what we do. 

          Could you explain how police mentorship program for minority staff within your police service works in practice?

          Some minority staff members lack confidence in themselves and in the system. We put them on a course specifically geared to minority staff, because there are very few in specialist departments and very few seeking promotion. It was about giving them strength and confidence to smash through the glass ceiling. Then you start coaching people to help them to start achieving better things for themselves.

          The Stonewall, a LGBT rights advocacy group, has recognized the Lancashire Constabulary as an employer that guarantees equal rights to their employees regardless of sexual orientation. Would you care to add to that?

          Our organization entered Stonewall’s “Workplace EqualityIndex”, that was to demonstrate that we are a gay friendly organization, and we got to the top 100. It was a big achievement and we made sure that we wanted to improve further. It is about being open and transparent to the way you deal with these sorts of issues, internally and externally through service delivery.

          Bob Eastwood was a guest speaker at the seminar organized in Kovacica in November 2013.  This seminar was realized as a part of cooperation between Swedish National Police Board (SNPB), Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCSP) and Ministry of Interior with support of Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) within the program of Development of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia 2012-2014 Phase II: Supporting the implementation of the Development Strategy.
           
        • Tags: diversity, equality, police, police reform, UK
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