Part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s role is to hold the Chief Constable to account for how they exercise their duty in relation to equality and diversity. In addition, as a public body the Commissioner’s office is also subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty of the Equality Act 2010.
The Equality Act 2010
This act sets out the general and specific duty of Public Sector bodies in ensuring that discrimination, harassment and victimisation amongst those individuals with “protected characteristics” is eliminated and that equality amongst those individuals is promoted. The term “protected characteristics” refers to the personal characteristics of individuals such as age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
The Equality Duty has three aims. It requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Act.
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it
- Foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not share it.
The Act also explains that having due regard for advancing equality involves removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics, taking steps to meet the needs of protected groups where those are different from the needs of other people and encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.
Compliance with the general duty is not only a legal obligation, but it is good practice as it results in better informed decision making, improved policy development and better policy outcomes. Consultation, public engagement and considering the impact changes could have on West Mercia’s diverse population when making decisions will assist the Police and Crime Commissioner in ensuring this duty is met.
West Mercia Police publish equality information in relation to the force on their website.
Stop and Search
The purpose of stop and search is to help police officers prevent and detect crime, and avoid unnecesary arrests in circumstances where a search might eliminate an officer’s suspicions. Stop and search is an important policing power and method of engaging with people that enables the police to maintain order and create the conditions that allow the public to go about their daily business in safety.
The police have the legal right to stop members of the public and search them for a variety of reasons. They use these powers to allow them to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and to prevent more serious crimes occurring.
It is vital that stop and search policy and practice is effective and used legitimately to increase public confidence. West Mercia Police publishes full details of how it uses stop and search, including data on stop and search encounters across the force area.
You can also find out more about how you can request to observe a stop and search take place or get details of any stop and search you may have personally experienced, as well as what to do if you have any concerns about the way in which a stop and search encounter took place.
Independent Custody Visitors
Every Police and Crime Commissioner has to provide an independent custody visiting (ICV) scheme to make sure that the force is doing what it should be with regards to human rights and custody services. To find out more about how the scheme works in West Mercia, including how you can become an independent custody visitor please visit our ICV information page. You will also find data on custody there.