9 October 2020
National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter writes about the importance of recognising diversity and speaking out against injustice.
As National Hate Crime Awareness Week begins, it’s a sobering reminder that intolerance and hate is an everyday reality for many of our members. Of course, progress has been made, but these are steps along a very long road. Deep seated prejudice and inequality does not go away overnight.
The past few months have showed us this very clearly. There is still deep division in our society – but division and hate helps no one.
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) is there for all our colleagues, but we have to accept that sometimes that is not how it may feel. This must change. Good progress has already been made, but we have to accept as an organisation, that this has not been quick enough.
Discrimination comes in many forms, whether that’s racism, sexism, homophobia. These are corrosive and toxic behaviours, which we must all work together to stamp out. These are problems for all of us, whether we are directly impacted or not – we all must stand up and say intolerance is not acceptable. We must also be prepared to be the voice in the room that points out where we can do better and add our support to our colleagues who face barriers and inequality every day just for who they are.
One of my priorities has been to push for proper monitoring of hate crimes directed at police officers. For example, if an officer is assaulted on duty, that crime takes primacy and is recorded; but what is not always recorded is the motive for the attack (i.e. example, if it’s homophobic or racist) which is important and can have long-lasting psychological effects.
Victims of these type of hate crimes are often repeat victims which can be incredibly damaging. I am pleased that some forces are now recording the hate crime element of these offences, but this needs to be more consistent and a ‘must do’, rather than an option.
My colleagues and I at the Federation have been pushing for better recording and monitoring through the recently published National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Officer and Staff Safety Review and will continue to make it a priority.
This month also sees Black History Month, National Inclusion Week, World Mental Health Day, National Menopause Day and Dyslexia Awareness Week, reminding us that we are all unique. And while some differences are more visible than others, every officer brings different perspectives and skills to the role and all are equally valuable.
I am committed to ensuring that the police service is a working environment in which everyone feels valued and has equal opportunities. Hate is never acceptable and PFEW will continue to work every day to create a better, more inclusive and supportive police service.