Diversity, Equality and Inclusion
Date: 25th October 2023
Chair: John Campion
- John Campion – Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)
- Marc Bayliss – Deputy PCC (DPCC)
- Nicola Lowery – Policy Officer (NL)
- Charity Pearce – Policy Officer (CP)
- Alex Murray – Temporary Chief Constable (T/CC)
- Richard Cooper – T/ Deputy Chief Constable (T/DCC)
- Grant Wills – T/Assistant Chief Constable (T/ACC)
- Rachel Hartland-Lane – Director of Business Services (RHL)
1. Review of Action Tracker
Action tracker reviewed. Three of the actions remain open. An update was due in relation to a HMICFRS SOC outstanding action which will be closed once the delivery plan is shared with the PCC.
2. Assurance & Accountability – ‘Diversity, Equality & Inclusion’
The PCC played a victim case study video produced by his Communications & Engagement team. The video contained perceptions and experiences of the police by different community groups across West Mercia.
To inform this meeting the PCC commissioned a report from West Mercia Police on elements of work relating to Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I).
The T/CC drew out highlights from the report, including the work to deliver the national Police Race Action Plan, representation amongst officers being a challenge, understanding disproportionality in police action and activity to better reach seldom heard communities.
Whilst recognising the importance of the Police Race Action Plan additional challenges are seen locally that may not be captured in the national plan. Each local policing area has a problem-solving plan in place to ensure the local focus. The challenge is around the visibility of officers and the visibility of communities due to the geography of the force area but the whole of the executive team is driving the importance of hearing the lived experience.
Current levels of engagement with community leaders varies amongst senior leaders in the force due to different focus, experience, and requirements amongst policing areas. The focus pushed by the previous Chief Constable on inclusion has been a success. There is some good practice where members of the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) collaboratively contributed to the force strategy and policy for Stop and Search. There is a push for the community contribution to be expanded out more to work in this way.
Telford were identified as an area with good relationships with community leaders. Through the force’s internal quarterly review framework with policing area commanders, inclusion and understanding the public voice is a central tenant. T/CC has a clear focus that whilst not all issues are policing issues, West Mercia Police should take more ownership to bringing partners together to solve community issues. This includes an aspiration for policing area Superintendents to become Community Safety Partnership Chairs.
It is recognised that not everything can be measured and sometimes the concept of listening is important. When politicians have to step in to solve an issue it highlights that the police haven’t got it right. T/CC wants to change the culture around police ownership of local issues.
Independent Advisory Groups
IAGs provide advice to West Mercia Police in regard to DE&I around policies and police practice. Historically, they haven’t always been representative of the communities locally, but a programme of work has improved this. The force has processes in place to overcome some barriers previously found to limit diversity.
Previously, the lines between scrutiny and advice were blurred but are now established with separate advisory groups and scrutiny panels in place. The community challenge is well received by the force and is being used in all policies through to papers submitted at the Governance Board. An example of good practice was highlighted where officers in Hereford attend a boxing gym and engage with young people by showing them body worn video clips of stop and search incidents. The feedback to this has been really positive.
It is often human nature to try and answer queries or provide reassurance. An example of where the force has recently overcome this is linked to child sexual exploitation victims in Telford. Their lived experience identified flaws in the training for this crime type, the force took the opportunity to just listen and understand what can be done to solve it.
Body Worn Video (BWV)
An officer is required to use their body worn video when conducting a stop and search. The force has a compliance target of 90%, where BWV is activated. However, when challenged by the PCC the force confirmed that this isn’t good enough and that their aspiration is 100%. Reassurance was provided that every case of non-compliance is scrutinised by a senior police officer. Non-compliance is often a recording error where a box isn’t ticked on the recording platform rather than no footage recorded. Through training, officers are taught ‘no camera, no search’.
ACTION: T/CC to review Body Worn Video compliance target in line with force policy and exec aspiration to improve compliance.
A recent example was provided where T/ACC Wills watched a BWV clip of a stop and search incident with a member of a scrutiny panel. Despite watching the same clip, they both identified two areas of focus that the other person hadn’t considered. This helped build a better understanding of factors that may contribute to service failure.
West Mercia data shows disproportionality in the use of strip search in custody. Analysis has been undertaken to better understand the reasons why with one suggestion that that application of strip search guidelines is applied more leniently to white detainees. There are two hypotheses for this;
- Familiarity bias due to generally low levels of diversity in West Mercia communities.
- Lack of trust or confidence in the police by the black community which may make interactions more hostile.
Work continues to try and make the process less confrontational.
Telford policing area were highlighted as best practice a number of times during the meeting. When providing reassurance on activity across the other policing areas to hear from those seldom heard communities, T/CC cited:
- the previously mentioned quarterly review process;
- new apps to measure engagement through Neighbourhood Matters; and
- internal governance boards focussed on engagement.
ACTION: Arrange for the PCC to have a demo of the mobile power app to measure engagement.
ACTION: Mobile power app data to come back to future A+A meeting, once first quarter’s data has been collected (launched 1st September)
The report to inform this meeting included little reference to the Roma, Gypsy and Traveller community. T/CC acknowledged that the force hasn’t got the balance right. Previously, the force didn’t grip issues with some members of this community enough, namely those involved in organised criminality. They now need to better recognise all in the community including engaging with those that abide by the law.
Data shows the number of complaints from members of the public relating to discriminatory behaviour is low, accounting for 3% of all complaints from April to June 2023. It may be that those who don’t trust the police would be less likely to complain about police action but the impact of that is unknown.
Trends in public confidence as measured by the PCC survey differ from trends seen nationally. Young people are more likely to be confident in police use of stop and search than older white males. This correlates with feedback from the force’s Independent Scrutiny Panels where middle aged, white males think the police should be harsher and use more powers likely creating a lack of confidence.
There have recently been two recorded police conduct offences relating specifically to diversity. More internal work has been undertaken in recent times by the anti-corruption unit to proactively root it out. The recent internal cultural audit didn’t highlight concerns around racism to the extent anticipated although it was mentioned by some officers and staff from ethnic minority backgrounds.
3. Summary of Actions Arising
CP provided a summary of the actions as set out above.
5. Confirmation of the next meeting type/date/time/venue:
Performance meeting- 11th December