Merseyside Police pledge their commitment to black communities following launch of national Race Action Plan

Merseyside Police pledge their commitment to black communities following launch of national Race Action Plan

Following the publication of today’s national Police Race Action Plan (Improving Policing for Black People) today (Tuesday, 24 May 2022) Merseyside Police Chief Constable Serena Kennedy has pledged her continued commitment to ensuring that Merseyside Police is an anti-racist police force and that Black communities in Merseyside are involved and represented in policing and not under protected or over policed.

Chief Constable Kennedy says she understands the history and the impact of racism across policing can have and the harm that this has caused to communities and colleagues across the UK is clear.

Chief Constable Kennedy, said: “We know that policing, like society, is not free of racial discrimination, bias and disproportionality. It still exists in some policies and processes, and we are taking action to change this. We collectively want to improve, we want to progress, we want to be better. Progress has been made, but we know we need to do more. We are committed to this and this is something I am passionate about and I know that my predecessors were also invested in.

From the wider criminal justice system, to education, health, and public and private sector organisations there is a responsibility for us all to review our processes and ways of working to ensure that our Black communities are treated with respect and dignity and are open to the same opportunities.

The time for talking and thinking is long gone and we now have to demonstrate the work we have been doing, and will continue to review and develop, to ensure our Black communities are not disadvantaged.

The Police Race Action Plan focuses on policing’s relationship with Black people and communities because the racial disparities affecting Black people in the criminal justice system and working in policing are the most acute.

Here on Merseyside we have already been working hard to deliver the national Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Strategy. The seven-year plan (2018-2025) reviewed work that was already underway and set out a number of objectives:

Our Organisation: we will maximising the scrutiny of our organisations to ensure our activies can be scruitinised to enable explanation or give evidence to enable reform; we will ensure we develop our staff to better understand diversity, equality and inclusion and the positive outcomes that will be delivered if we truly embed our response within our organisations; create an inclusive culture where people, no matter their background, feel confident to disclose their characteristics; we will better understand the composition of our workforce by ensuring we put in place systems that enable the collection, collation and analysis of workforce data across the nine strands of diversity; put in place effective strategies to enable formal and informal engagement within our staff and support networks to ensure we better understand how we can continue to develop an inclusive organisational culture that promotes and embeds diversity and equality

  • Our Organisation:
    -we will ensure our activities can be scrutinised to enable explanation or give evidence to enable reform;
    -we will ensure we develop our staff to better understand diversity, equality and inclusion and the positive outcomes that will be delivered if we truly embed our response within our organisation;
    -create an inclusive culture where people, no matter their background, feel confident to disclose their characteristics;
    -better understand the composition of our workforce by ensuring we put in place systems that enable the collection, collation and analysis of workforce data across the nine strands of diversity and put in place effective strategies to enable formal and informal engagement within our staff and support networks to ensure we better understand how we can continue to develop an inclusive organisational culture that promotes and embeds diversity and equality.
  • Our Communities:
    we will better understand the composition of our communities by ensuring we put in place systems that enable the collection, collation, and analysis of community data and information across the nine strands of diversity;
    -we will deal effectively with all reported hate crimes and incidents, recognising that failure to do so has a detrimental impact on the confidence those communities have in the police;
    -we will ensure the code of ethics is embedded in all we do and is pivotal in our interactions with those we come in to contact with;
    -we will develop effective engagement strategies that enable interaction with all communities, fostering strong relationships that build trust and confidence
  • Our Partners:
    -we will work with partners to put in place systems that enable the collection, collation and analysis of data and information that identifies disparity in the service we deliver across the nine strands of diversity;
    -we will work with partners to implement whole system strategies to explain, where necessary reduce, and where possible eliminate, disparity and enhance public service;
    -we will work with our partners to develop strategies that enable more effective public service provisions across our communities

“As a result of this ongoing work we are already seeing a positive direction of travel in almost all of our processes where we have identified disproportionality.”

Chief Constable Kennedy, continued: “Within Merseyside Police I am determined that officers and staff from across the organisation work together and have open conversations so we can drive and embed change. We need to have an environment where proper debate can take place and where people have the ability to speak and be heard so we can learn, grow and move forward together.

I have already held a number of Listening in Action sessions with my officers and staff and have more planned in the coming months, where people can talk about how they believe the organisation can become more inclusive, whilst identifying outdated practices that could impact on our desire to ensure that the force is an inclusive organisation.

To keep pushing us forward, we have developed an Inclusion action plan, built around the national Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Strategy and the Police Race Action Plan. It has been developed with the feedback that colleagues have provided through Listening in Action Sessions. Our work to deliver the Race Action Plan will concentrate on four main workstreams:

Workstream 1 – Black people and communities are properly represented within policing, with an internal culture that promotes inclusivity and supports their development and progression Represented (Internal culture and inclusivity)

We will:

  • Deliver, monitor, and track the actions and outcomes of the Police Race Action Plan
  • Increase knowledge of officers and staff to understand the history of policing our Black communities and the ongoing impact and trauma of disproportionality. All staff will complete the College of Policing mandatory training programme
  • Review and improve attraction, retention, and progression of people from Black communities. This will include improving and/or changing processes and practices to eliminate any discrimination or bias from initial recruitment through to promotion processes, utilising mentoring and talent development programmes specifically for Black people
  • Improve understanding of, and address, workplace disparities and the experiences of Black officers and staff through:
    -Collation and annual reporting of the ethnicity pay gap to understand and address any pay disparities
    -the annual Black workforce survey to capture data on the experiences and perceptions of our Black officers and staff
    -reducing any disparities in misconduct and complaints processes and improving support
    -using that data to monitor and improve the experience and confidence of Black officers and staff within the workplace

Workstream 2 – Black people and communities are respected and treated in a fair and equitable way Not over-policed (Use of Powers)

We will:

  • Work with the new national framework that will help forces identify, understand and take action to tackle racial disparities in the use of powers
  • Use the new national framework to improve and promote consistency in the recording, monitoring and publication of data on police powers. Make effective use of the data through analysis to explain and tackle inequalities
  • Further strengthen governance and oversight of the use of police powers to inform our systems, processes and procedures including developing our analytical approaches
  • Improve the knowledge and skills of all officers on the use of powers, ensuring we embed a continual learning culture. Key elements will be: effective communication and de-escalation, empathy, procedural justice, bias and stereotyping and the history of policing and Black communities
  • Take learning from the work on the procedural value framework and the decision making model to inform strategic decision making and inform officer conduct, thereby embedding an environment of fairness and legitimacy
  • Develop further independent scrutiny arrangements across a wider range of powers
  • Be innovative, using digital technology to gain insight and feedback from people affected by police use of powers

Workstream 3 – Black people and communities are routinely involved in the governance of policing
Involved (Community engagement and relations

We will:

  • Ensure fair, appropriate and respectful interaction with the Black community.
  • Understand the level of trust and confidence in policing held by the Black community.
  • Give Black people a voice to influence how Merseyside is policed and conduct reconciliation activities with those who feel they do not have a voice.
  • Take decisive action to address the needs and concerns of the Black community and communicate back to the community through a ‘you said, we did’ style approach.
  • Work in partnership to create stronger and safer communities for Black people and promote cohesion.
  • Encourage and enable citizen participation in policing for the Black community.
  • Develop a trauma informed workforce that understands the local context for Black people and can adapt its approach in line with the needs of individuals, groups and the wider community.
  • Deliver a visible and accessible service to the Black community, providing inclusive engagement, prevention and safeguarding activities

Workstream 4 – Black people are not ‘under-protected’ and are properly supported as victims of crime and as vulnerable groups
Not under-protected against victimisation

We will:

  • Develop a programme of work to understand crime types disproportionally impacting on Black people and the service level that Black victims receive.
  • Develop a more effective police response to Hate Crime (including online and social media) committed against Black people to improve governance, understanding and police response.
  • Work to improve understanding, police interaction and support for vulnerable groups within Black communities including:
  • Address the criminal exploitation of vulnerable young Black people; disrupting the cycle of victims becoming offenders; and ensuring the consistent use of age-appropriate policing.
  • Improve the police response and effectiveness in supporting missing persons from Black communities.
  • Improve the police response and effectiveness to supporting vulnerable Black people with mental-ill health issues
  • Refresh local crime prevention plans to improve support to Black communities to reduce victimisation, and marginalisation experienced by Black communities and improve victim satisfaction
  • Establish a Black Mentoring Scheme to develop a register and cohort of peer mentors from Black communities to work with front-line officers, chief officer teams and national policing bodies to improve engagement, understanding and support for marginalised Black communities
  • Explore opportunities to secure additional funding to support more effective outcomes for Black people. Ensure victims receive support bespoke to their needs and a quality investigation

This builds on the work we have already undertaken. Some of which includes:

  • Delivery of Phoenix programmes to support Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority officers through recruitment to help them have the best chances of success
  • Securing places for members of staff from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds on the Super Futures programme hosted by the Police Superintendents’ Association and the NPCC, which provides them with direct coaching and mentoring from senior police leaders
  • Developing a plan to deliver inclusion training to new tutor constables, new tutor PCSOs and new police staff in 2022-23
  • Creating an Outreach team that works in the heart of our most diverse communities to build relationships and trust and encourage Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority people to work with us and join Merseyside Police

“Alongside this we have been working hard to ensure that under-represented groups, including Black people are properly represented within our organisation and that their development and progression is supported.

​“Our 2021 recruitment attracted a noticeably higher proportion of minority ethnicity applicants than in previous years, but we know there is still much more work to be done. In the last year our workforce has grown by 2.5% and the growth is significantly stronger across minority ethnic groups, which have seen 9.4% growth overall (21 new Black officers and 151 new officers from other ethnic minorities were recruited in 2021 out of a total of 2074 new recruits, compared to 10 new Black officers and 108 officers from other ethnic minorities out of a total of 2130 new recruits in 2020).

​“The Fore Network (which represents officers and staff from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds) and our Diversity, Equality, Inclusion (DEI) team, are working hard – and have been for some time – to promote recruitment webinars and initiatives specifically for those from under-represented groups.

​“We want to attract and recruit more Black officers and staff to our force and we know that to do that we need to ensure our communities have trust and confidence in the policing service we provide and that our internal culture promotes inclusivity.

​“The force currently has regular meetings with the Diversity, Equality, Inclusion (DEI) team, Community Engagement, and the MIAG (Merseyside Independent Advisory Group), along with community leaders to see how we work together to achieve this going forward.

​“In line with the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) Workforce Representation strategy, which aims to make policing more diverse and inclusive, our focus includes the attraction, recruitment, progression, and retention of under-represented groups. The support we offer as part of this includes one-to-one mock interviews and webinars for developing interview skills.

​“We are also working directly with our communities to engage and recruit people from under-represented backgrounds..”

​Chief Constable Kennedy added: “To help us continue to build trust and confidence in our communities we have:

  • Established a force legitimacy team which has been pivotal in creating the independent public scrutiny panels (made up of members from our communities) for stop and search and use of force. These panels have helped us to understand the impact of police use of powers on members of the public. The team uses the feedback to inform and develop organisational learning and to improve the quality of policing in our communities. They have also developed stop search cards, which allow members of the community to understand the law and know their rights in relation to stop and search. The force is committed to being open and transparent and has published its stop and search data on the Merseyside Police website to ensure transparency and to increase trust and confidence
  • Embedded greater scrutiny of stop and search and use of force with members of the public involved, looking at body worn video of stop and searches conducted by our officers and providing feedback – positive and negative. Any learning for the organisation and positive feedback that should be reinforced is captured and shared
  • Developed a video alongside the stop and search cards to help our communities understand how and why we use stop and search and the standards they should expect from any encounter in Merseyside
  • Continued to work with the Merseyside Independent Advisory Group (MIAG) to capture the views and voices of our community. The MIAG is a diverse group of people and acts as a critical friend to the force, ensuring we police with legitimacy and professionalism and we have dialogue and engagement with our communities
  • Developed a Leadership Framework which is seeking to build on our caring and compassionate style of leadership, with a focus on being inclusive, and ensuring exclusion is addressed

“Where disproportionality exists in the work that we do we need to identify it, understand it and explain it, or change how we work. Stop and search is a crucial policing power which has allowed us to tackle and prevent serious and organised crime – seizing weapons, drugs, and arresting those who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Of course, it can only be a crucial policing power if it is used fairly and properly.

​“Over the last few years, we have introduced a number of measures to ensure integrity in use of the powers, including a policy for officers to activate body worn cameras during stop and searches to capture evidence. We have also introduced community scrutiny panels, in which volunteers from our communities review stop and searches. Panel members give feedback and we update on any outcomes and changes to our practice that arise.

​“Stop and search is one of the greatest powers that policing has for preventing crime, provided it is used properly and it is intelligence led and based on criminality. Our communities understand why we use stop and search and tell us that they don’t want us to stop using the power but stress that we must eliminate disproportionality, use it properly and ensure that it is intelligence led and based on criminality.

​“As a force we will ensure we communicate and engage with our communities so they understand why we use these tactics to support our targeting of serious and violent crime.

​“We consistently analyse how we use stop and search, looking at data and through our scrutiny panels. The most recent data shows that Black people are 1.5 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched in Merseyside. While this figure needs to be improved, it is significantly less than the average across England and Wales – which shows that a Black person is six times more likely to be stopped than a white person.  As one of the forces that uses stop and search frequently to tackle serious organised crime this illustrates the scrutiny and work we have done to ensure that stop and search on Merseyside is intelligence led.

“We know we need to keep doing more and constantly review and assess the way we work. We also need to continue to actively listen to the lived experience of our communities and colleagues so we can intentionally drive ongoing, lasting change.

“I want Merseyside Police to be recognised as a police force that is anti-racist and trusted by all. We will do this by building on the progress we have already made over recent years, and we will do everything within our power to earn the trust and respect of all our communities by ensuring we don’t exacerbate existing social disadvantage and that we are proactive in tackling discrimination and inequalities where they exist.

“I can say hand on heart that the overwhelming majority of my officers and staff join the force to do good and make a difference for all the communities they serve, unfortunately there are a few who don’t uphold the same high standards and behaviour as the vast majority of the force and their actions can seriously undermine the exemplary work being done by officers and staff every day.

​“We will take a zero-tolerance approach to racism in policing. Where racist behaviour is identified in the force we will act upon it and we will root those individuals out. In the year January 2021 to December 2021 there were three Gross Misconduct Hearings and one staff hearing. These were related to racial misconduct, which included offensive material stored and shared on phones and racist comments. All three were dismissed without notice and subsequently placed on the College of Policing Barred List. The staff member, a Police Community Support Officer, resigned prior to the hearing, however the case was proven in her absence and the finding was that had she still been serving she would have been dismissed without notice.

​“I can reassure our communities that on a daily basis I see officers and staff who go the extra mile to keep all our communities safe and they are absolutely dedicated and devoted to the work they do, doing everything within their power to support victims and see justice done.

“My officers and staff too, are subjected to racial abuse when they are in our communities and we work together with the Police Federation, Trade Unions and our Networks to make sure that officers who are targeted get the right care and are supported by the force.

“Today the national Police Race Action Plan sets out the actions we will take to positively change Black people’s experiences of policing and ensure Merseyside Police is an anti-racist police force trusted and supported by Black people and we will do that by ensuring that our Black communities are involved and represented and not under protected and over-policed.

“We want to work with our stakeholders and communities, and our officers and staff, to drive and embed meaningful, long-term change. To help us two national surveys are being launched. The first, which is launched today, gives our stakeholders, members of the public, or other organisations, the chance to contribute their views to help shape the Police Race Action Plan and its ongoing implementation. We would value your input. You can take part via the link here.

“The second survey is the Black Workforce Survey which will give Black police officers and staff the opportunity to talk about their experiences in policing. This will help to establish a baseline data series of their experiences, attitudes and perceptions and will help to inform the Police Race Action Plan. This survey will go live on 30 May and will run annually for the next five years.”

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