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New research gives police power to strengthen relations with the BME community

BME Project Findings 15 July 2013

(L-R) Sajid Mohammed, Tim Pickup, Chief Constable Chris Eyre, Professor Cecile Wright, Professor Saul Becker and Police & Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping has today (Monday, July 15 2013) welcomed the publication of a new study which analyses relations between the Force and the county’s black and ethnic minority community.

The research project, led by Professor Cecile Wright from the University of Nottingham’s school of sociology and social policy, was aimed at improving the relationship between Nottinghamshire’s BME community and the police, particularly around the way various styles of policing are interpreted. It was commissioned by Commissioner Tipping as part of his pre-election pledge to give BME communities a bigger voice within policing and to promote fairness.

More than 500 BME residents were asked to give their feedback as part of the three-month study. The findings show that amongst those asked members of the BME community are twice more likely to become victims of crime than the rest of the population while ‘hate crime’ is the most commonly experienced crime among BME residents. It also shows more than one third of those who had been a victim of crime did not report it to the police – something Commissioner Tipping is passionate about improving.

The report said these negative experiences were adversely affecting the way BME communities perceived the police and argued that greater co-operation was needed to improve relationships and deliver more effective law enforcement.

Professor Wright acknowledged the positive steps taken by Nottinghamshire Police to forge closer relationships with the County’s diverse cultures including its work with a range of Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs) representing the interests of minority groups to gain advice on policing policy.

She also touched on the Force’s recent work on Stop and Search, which has seen investment in new technology to map stop and search encounters to the location where they took place and its work with national group Stop Watch to improve the Force’s approach to stop and search, training of front line staff and increased engagement with affected groups.

However, the research highlights a number of key areas for improvement, particularly in the way the police and the public engage with one another. Among a series of recommendations made is the introduction of an action plan to tackle hate crime and a supervision system whereby the performance of police officers and PCSOs will be regularly monitored to observe how they execute their duties. Professor Wright has also called for a review of the Force’s Stop and Search strategy, weighing up its value as a crime detection measure against the negative impact on community relations, and to introduce more effective diversity training to all employees. In particular, Professor Wright called for the practice of ‘voluntary’ searches to cease and for information sessions to be held within the community so that they were aware of their rights during police interaction.

In relation to recruitment, the report said more work was needed to boost the representation of the BME community within the Force. It recommended the extension of BME support networks to assist candidates through the application process and independent research into the progression of ethnic minority employees through the ranks. It also advised the Force to consider multi-agency based recruitment strategies with councils and other public sector organisations.

Reacting to the report, Commissioner Tipping said: “I welcome the publication of this report which recognises the hard work already undertaken by Nottinghamshire Police to address any imbalances within the service as perceived by members of the BME community but also highlights areas where improvement is needed.

“One of the key aims of this research has been to understand the root of negative perceptions of the police within the BME community so that we can begin to replace them with positive experiences. With this knowledge behind us, the decisions we make in the future will be targeted towards building trust so that BME residents feel more confident in reporting crime to the police.

“I am grateful for the hard work of Cecile, her team and the Independent Advisory Group, in examining this very important issue and look forward to studying the report in more depth so that we can plan our course of action. We will now create a steering group to consider how these recommendations will be put into practice and to review progress on a regular basis.”

Commissioner Tipping added that the group would report back its plans to the research team within three months.

Professor Wright added: “I’m grateful to the Commissioner; this has been, and will continue to be, a good opportunity for BME communities to put their views forward, sure in the knowledge that they will be heard.

“We all believe that, in partnership with Nottinghamshire Police, we can help to improve the trust and confidence between the police and BME communities. The findings sit alongside the views of other reports so that we have a holistic view of the real picture and while there is much to be done, I think that the future is looking positive.”

Chief Constable Chris Eyre said: “We want to provide the very best policing service to the people of Nottinghamshire and to do that it is absolutely essential that the public have trust and confidence in us.

“One of the ways we can do that is to increase our understanding of the different communities we serve so we can identify issues and concerns that they have and work together to resolve them.

“This report gives us an insight into the experiences some members of our BME communities have had with policing. The Commissioner is right that we should do all we can to replace negative perceptions of the police with positive experiences.

“I believe the Force has made huge strides both in acknowledging and addressing the concerns of our minority communities and in strengthening our engagement and relationships over recent years. We are committed to building on these foundations to increase the representation of minorities within the Force, engaging with our communities to address their concerns and ensuring that all communities are protected from crime.

“Last week’s positive HMIC report on our use of stop and search and our efforts to recruit more people from BME communities as police officers and PCSOs are examples of this.

“I am pleased the report recognises the efforts we are making in these areas. We will work with the PCC to consider this report and identify how it may help us to increase the safety and confidence of Black and Minority Communities.”

A copy of the report can be found on the website:  http://www.nottinghamshire.pcc.police.uk/Public-Information/Scrutiny-Findings/BME-Report.aspx

Ends

Media enquiries:  Sallie Blair 01283 821012 /07702 541401

 

Posted on Monday 15th July 2013
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