New national role for Derbyshire PCC

Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner has been chosen to lead nationally on Equality, Diversity and Human Rights issues on behalf of his fellow PCCs.

Hardyal Dhindsa (pictured) is the only PCC from a black and minority ethnic (BAME) background. 

Speaking after the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners' AGM, he said: "There has been some good progress over the years in tackling issues such as hate crime and disproportionality and we have improved diversity in the workforce. But we must do more.

"I am aware that in the aftermath of the McPherson Report action was taken on many of the recommendations. But that early head of steam seems to have petered out somewhat and I think we need to reboot this work in light of recent events.

"I know that we are willing to do our bit, but I want wider society to work with us and do their bit too. This must never become an ‘us and them' situation."

The role includes working with the NPCC and other policing partners to tackle hate crime, support victims and bring perpetrators to justice. It encompasses improving diversity and inclusion in the police workforce and driving work to reduce disparity in the Criminal Justice System.

Earlier this month, the PCC revealed that a major review has commenced in Derbyshire, looking at policing practices across the area to identify areas requiring improvement in tackling racial inequality.

The Chief Constable and the Commissioner agreed an urgent review of the impact of the force's organisational policies and practices on citizens and staff members from all BAME backgrounds, but also specifically in relation to black men and women.

"We've always taken equality issues extremely seriously and have been at the forefront of efforts to increase diversity within policing but there is so much more to do and this review will go much deeper in examining further opportunities for progress," said Mr Dhindsa.

"The spotlight is shining, across the country and beyond, on incidents spawned by discrimination, inequality and prejudice. The shocking murder of George Floyd in the US sparked a defining moment in our history and I'm determined the outpouring of anger and grief which has followed will lead to meaningful and permanent change within our justice system and society as a whole."

Derbyshire Constabulary say the review is a "robust programme of scrutiny" - examining trends in the use of discretional powers including arrest, stop and search, use of force, Taser, firearms incidents, fixed penalty notices and a whole raft of policing powers including temporary enforcement introduced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Internal staffing issues will also come under the spotlight including performance matters, complaints, misconduct allegations and outcomes; while further scrutiny will focus on the force's engagement with community representative groups to identify any gaps, particularly in relation to young black men and women.    

"We have listened to the powerful testimonies of campaigners and it is absolutely right that we seek positive change in response," said Mr Dhindsa.

"For policing to be truly effective, people need to feel valued, supported, respected and understood and it is quite clear that for some within our BAME communities we still have a long way to go. Trust is critical and we need to understand how we can rectify that by looking at the evidence and speaking to people.

"I'm immensely proud of the work we have done so far to increase BAME representation within the force and challenge disproportionality but there is more to be done."

The review will look at relevant national inquiries including The Lammy Review, an independent assessment of the treatment of, and outcomes for, BAME individuals in the Criminal Justice System which concluded in 2017, to see if and how the recommendations have been acted upon. 

The force say it will spend four weeks scrutinising data before consulting the public and stakeholders on the findings. Project leaders will also assess performance against national best practice to identify potential areas of improvement. 

The review was outlined in a report to the Commissioner's Strategic Priorities Board (SPA) last month. The research and feedback will be used to draft a strategic action plan which will be monitored through the SPA and PCC.

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