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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

“Chief Officers should not be labelling and condemning all of their hard working officers… but instead courageously standing up to blanketed criticisms”

13 December 2021

“Chief Officers should not be labelling and condemning all of their hard working officers… but instead courageously standing up to blanketed criticisms”

Federation reacts as Chief Constables in England and Wales consider making a “public admission that their forces are institutionally racist”.

According to a report in the Guardian newspaper – which has not been challenged by Chief Officers – members of the National Police Chiefs’ Council began debating whether to put out such a declaration/label on policing at a meeting in Manchester last week.

More discussions will be held in January, and a decision from police chiefs is expected in February.

Mark Loker, Chair of Avon and Somerset Police Federation, strongly rejected any notion that officers are institutionally racist.

He said: “We should never denigrate the perception of a person that they are discriminated against due to any protected characteristic and we as a police service should rightly embrace diversity.

“But this constant demonisation of Policing that it is relentlessly misogynistic or racist does nothing to address any issues that there may be and is, in my opinion, purposefully divisive. Afterall the irony cannot be ignored that what is happening is a systemic profiling of policing – and police officers - due to a very small number of individuals.

“I do not personally take the view that policing is institutionally racist, I do believe however that we should do far more to address and change, if necessary, the policies and procedures which create the perception that it is. Whilst these changes will need to be addressed by Chief Officers as well as rank and file Officers, I would hope to see Chief Officers not being weak in the condemnation of their Officers, but courageously standing up to blanketed criticisms.”

Mark added: “As Police Officers we attest that we will serve with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people. To protect the public without fear or favour.

“There can be nothing more destructive and damaging than being accused of something you have not done. We only have to look at the impact protracted investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct have on the mental health and wellbeing of police officers to see this.

“Our Chief Constable this week called for ‘courageous conversations to help us confront the uncomfortable truths; to admit when something is wrong in our organisation and to listen carefully to the lived experiences of others, particularly those who have little or no confidence in us. We need to know where this lack of confidence comes from and work out how we can win it back.’

“I agree 100% with that statement but we also must not lose sight of maintaining the confidence and motivation of our colleagues. There also need to be courageous conversations, but about the mental wellbeing and health of officers, the failure of Government to accept the PRRB recommendations on our pay and recognise the hard work of our members.

“We also need to start to admit that something is wrong and listen carefully to those who have been left damaged, broken beyond repair by Policing.

“Strong leadership imbues confidence and in turn affects positive change. Unfair, unsubstantiated labels of misogyny and racism and constant criticism do nothing but demoralise and demean those who sacrifice the most to make the most difference in our communities and it has to stop.

“So, whilst we should not be denigrating the perception of an individual let us not denigrate, deprecate and disparage the excellence in Policing, especially when it is judged on the actions of a few. But let us engage, encourage and empathise and let us stand proud of the excellence in Policing and hold those who do not to account.”

See the Guardian’s full report here https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/dec/12/uk-police-leaders-debate-public-admission-institutional-racism