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Supervisors 'not confident' of dealing with BAME officer issues, MPs told


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Early referrals to professional standards departments have hit BAME police retention, PCCs tell Macpherson Inquiry follow up committee.


Date - 11th March 2020
By - Chris Smith

The Home Affairs Select Committee has been told by a panel of Police and Crime Commissioners that disciplinary issues were being escalated to professional standards departments that should be resolved at a lower level becuase supervisors were not confident in dealing with issues involving BAME officers. 

The committee is investigating progress by the police service in implementing the recommendations of the Macpherson Inquiry that followed the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The inquiry concluded that the Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist.

Committee member Laura Farris (Conservative) asked why there is a disparity in the higher number of BAME officers being sanctioned for serious disciplinary issues.

David Munro, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners lead for Equalities, Diversity and Human Rights, said new research by Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain of North Yorkshire, had found supervisors were less confident in dealing with issues involving BAME officers. Their default was to pass issues to professional standards departments, he said.

Mr Munro said: “BAME officers are more likely to be pushed into the formal disciplinary process. Supervisors at their level feel less confident dealing with BAME officers and push early into misconduct and grievance. The outcomes are lower.”

The issues involved could be dealt with by a lesser process, he said.

He added: “Disproportionality in complaints is not led by the public.”

MPs were told progress on achieving diversity in senior ranks would take decades: Kent remains the only constabulary to have been led by a BAME officer.

The PCC elections, due later this year, and the uplift campaign will be used as an opportunity for forces to improve their diversity.

But Derbyshire’s PCC Hardyal Dhindsa, who is the only BAME crime commissioner out of 41, warned: “Progress in the ranks is not where it should be. Chief officer groups, Supers, there is much more to be done. Retention is still a problem.”

Julia Mulligan, the PCC who Chairs the Police Reform and Transformation Board, said her force ( North Yorkshire) was the exception on diversity – with 3.4% representation – because it had ditched the College of Policing selection process and had made it a priority at the top of the force.

“Instead of using a competency framework, we are using a strengths-based framework. We have now extended that,” she said. “We’ve got a really clear set of values and we recruit against those values.”

The College of Policing is set to visit North Yorkshire on a fact-finding mission to learn from what the force is doing.

The panel were divided on whether police forces are institutionally racist, and told MPs there was not enough evidence to prove that there was an issue of unconscious bias.

Mr Dhindsa added:  “It’s not about individuals and fingers being pointed at them. It’ about what they have learned.”

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The clue is in the quote "Committee member Laura Farris (Conservative) asked why there is a disparity in the higher number of BAME officers being sanctioned for serious disciplinary issues".

As a Supervisor I cannot think of a discipline issue for a Serious Disciplinary Offence, that I would not refer to a higher authority, irrespective of BAME.  In disciplinary matters ALL OFFICERS are equal.

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