One of the big challenges policing faces is building trust and confidence with the Black and Black heritage community.
Chief Constable, Chris Noble, shares his reflections following Black History Month.
Nationally, all police forces are signed up to delivering, locally, a Police Race Action Plan. In Staffordshire, our plan (which, following discussion with members of the Black and Black heritage community will be known as our Community & Police Race Action Plan) focuses on the following priorities:
improving our own internal culture and inclusivity;
improving community engagement;
understanding disparities in the use of police powers (for example, stop and search); and
improving support for Black and Black heritage victims and vulnerable people;
I chair the meeting which oversees progress of this plan, reflecting the importance I place on improving trust and confidence with the Black community in Staffordshire.
Each of the four priority areas are led by a chief superintendent, or the head of our People Services.
At our latest meeting to assess progress, we’ve seen good progress in a number of areas: we’ve done a lot to increase awareness amongst colleagues regarding racism/anti-racism, promoting a better understanding of Black history within policing, and gathering feedback and areas of learning through surveys and internal engagement sessions with our workforce, including those who are Black and Black heritage. We will shortly be launching training programme to improve cultural understanding for use within the force.
We’re also looking at how we can better use mentoring and coaching to support the development of our Black and Black heritage officers and staff. We are also analysing pay disparities, and are reviewing our grievance and dispute resolution information, to help us better understand what part race may play in these areas.
I’m pleased to say that we’re making real progress in strengthening our engagement with the Black community. Following a small series of pilot events in Stoke and Burton, our local policing teams are developing much stronger links with community leaders in each of our local policing areas, which was a key objective when I moved the force to a more local model last year.
The next steps will be to work with these leaders to identify or organise community engagement events in each local area throughout the autumn, and we have seen a number during Black History Month. I know that my officers really valued the experiences of attending events, like the Six Towns carnival, during the summer.
Establishing stronger contacts with our Black and Black heritage communities is critical to our approach. By building our understanding of these groups, increasing our engagement and fostering greater trust, we can begin to rebuild confidence in a community which has felt over-policed and under-protected for too long.
We continue to look at how policing can disproportionately impact on the Black community, and am working with Keele University to look at the data that we record, and how this plays out.
Similarly, we’re now focusing on how we can provide a better service to Black victims, especially those subject to hate crimes, and we will soon be launching a study to better understand the confidence of Black women who have been subject to rape or sexual assault, and their willingness to report these crimes. We will also be looking at what more we can do, with partner agencies, to better protect young Black and Black heritage children who may be at risk of criminal exploitation.
I hope you found this update on our work to deliver our Community & Police Race Action Plan, and I will update on further progress in the coming months.