Have your say on policing and race in Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire’s top cop is urging residents to have their say over a landmark race action plan.

By Lynn Hughes
Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 10:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 1:02 pm
Bedfordshire Chief Constable Garry Forsyth
Bedfordshire Chief Constable Garry Forsyth

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “We are supporting the launch of the landmark Police Race Action Plan, a watershed moment for British policing to address longstanding trust and confidence issues with Black communities.”

The plan details what must happen for policing to become an anti-racist institution, which actively challenges discrimination and bias including training for every officer and staff, as well as a commitment for police forces to explain any disproportionality in its use of powers.

This is just the first draft version of the plan, which is currently out for public consultation.

He said: “More details about the plan, our approach here in Bedfordshire, as well as the survey to give your feedback on it, can be accessed through a dedicated page on our website.

“As the lead for race, religion and belief for the National Police Chiefs Council, I have played a central role in shaping this plan.

“I am proud to be a Chief Constable somewhere as culturally rich and diverse as Bedfordshire. The diversity we have in the county enriches us all, and it is a pleasure to be charged with keeping all our communities safe.

“I am also proud of our record on race and diversity here in Bedfordshire. We have among the lowest rates of disproportionality in stop and search of all police forces in England and Wales, and the best record for conducting stop and searches on reasonable grounds.

“This is in no small part helped by our community stop and search scrutiny panel, which holds us to account and helps drive forward improvements.

“We have the third most diverse workforce of the country’s police forces, and are also one of only a handful of forces to record the ethnicity of those we stop in traffic stops. This was a key recommendation for policing in the Macpherson report following the death of Stephen Lawrence.

“I am sure many of you work with our fantastic community cohesion team, which works across all our communities in Bedfordshire, while we also benefit from one of the country’s leading independent advisory groups. This group of community volunteers gives us invaluable community insight, and I was honoured that Bedfordshire was chosen to host this year’s national IAG conference.

“This followed months after we hosted the National Black Police Association (NBPA) conference, which again showcased some of the agenda setting work we are doing in this area here in Bedfordshire.

“However, we have an awful lot more work to do.

“While we have a diverse workforce, our representation is still well behind that of the general population here in Bedfordshire. Plus, a key part of the plan challenges us to look at ourselves internally: it is vital that we recruit more Black officers and staff, as well as addressing our internal culture.

“Officers from diverse backgrounds are more likely to leave, less likely to be promoted and usually face harsher disciplinary proceedings than their white colleagues. These are all facts that are unacceptable for a public service that must be truly inclusive to every community.

“This plan is a watershed moment to change that. I would really appreciate your help to drive forward this change.”