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Police chiefs call for reflection on Britain's 'history of slavery' as diversity drive is launched

By Peter Madeley | Crime | Published:

West Midlands Police (WMP) chiefs have urged people to reflect on "the legacy of slavery, injustice and inequality" they say has helped shape Britain as they launched a new scheme to make the force more diverse.

Chief Constable Dave Thompson (left) and Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson

Chief constable Dave Thompson and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Jamieson say they want to make their force "more inclusive" in a bid to increase the confidence of BAME communities.

And they believe this can only happen Britain takes responsibility for past racism, and not attempt to "write off" episodes such as the Windrush scandal as "historic anomalies".

They also questioned whether the force's officers had the "cultural competence" to police diverse communities, and warned that "structural inequalities" such as low wages and zero hours contracts were driving more people into crime.

Mr Thompson recently apologised for WMP's history of racism against black people, as it emerged a black person is almost four times more likely to be stopped and searched by officers from his force than a white person.

In a joint statement launching the 'Making West Midlands Police a Fairer Force' plan, Mr Thompson and Labour PCC Mr Jamieson, said: "The worldwide movement we’ve seen here and abroad since George Floyd’s killing in May reminds us that racism, discrimination and racial inequality are real, both in the UK and abroad.

"Structural inequality blights the lives of many black and Asian people. Our country’s history is controversial and complex: at the same time as we remember our nation’s contribution to freeing Europe from fascism, we should also reflect on the legacy of slavery, injustice and inequality that is woven into the country we have become.

Traumatic

"Recent events have reminded many of personal experiences of unfairness and maltreatment, and made fresh these difficult and traumatic memories. We cannot write these off as historic anomalies: the Windrush scandal is from our own time, our generation, our responsibility."

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They went on to question whether WMP officers had the "cultural competence" to police diverse populations and challenge racism, and asked if the force had done enough to forge links with BAME communities.

Blaming increases in crime on "structural inequalities", they added: "Low wages, the gig economy, zero hours contracts and ballooning personal debt are driving the hard pressed into crime.

"All of these challenges require a system-wide response, rather than just police reform."

A key strand will be a programme for ‘truth’, which will look at recruitment, training, promotion and the fair use of police powers.

WMP has committed to recruiting 1,000 officers from BAME backgrounds over the next three years.

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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