Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan addresses the National Black Police Association Conference
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South Wales Police is delighted to host the 2023 National Black Police Association Conference in Cardiff. The event is being held in Cardiff City Hall and South Wales Police Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan was honoured to address the conference as one the keynote speakers.
He spoke about the ongoing challenges of providing an effective policing service to all the communities we serve here in South Wales. A proud, professional and positive service which every day protects vulnerable people, supports victims and brings criminals to justice.
He also addressed the issue of Institutional Racism, a term he believes applies to South Wales Police. The reality we face is that some communities trust us less because they don’t think that we represent them; they don’t think that we are there to help them; they don’t think that we will protect them or deliver justice for them.
In his conclusion he spoke about how South Wales Police is redoubling efforts to earn the trust of all our communities.
You can read his full address here:
While you have already been welcomed to Cardiff and South Wales by Andy can I also extend my personal welcome and say Croeso i Gaerdydd ar ran Heddlu De Cymru – welcome to Cardiff on behalf of South Wales Police.
It’s an honour and pleasure for me to be able to address you this morning, following on from the thought provoking, challenging, important address we’ve just heard from Baroness Casey who has certainly given me and everyone else food for thought.
If you permit me, I’m going to concentrate my remarks today about the ongoing challenges of providing an effective policing service to all the communities we serve here in South Wales. A proud, professional and positive service which every day protects vulnerable people, supports victims and brings criminals to justice.
My words will focus on service delivery – I make no attempt to virtue signal or talk from the perspective of principles – I speak from the perspective of the service we provide to the public we serve.
I am now heading into my fourth year as Chief Constable and I am immensely proud and privileged to lead an organisation of officers, staff and volunteers who work tirelessly, to help keep South Wales safe.
Delivering a policing service to the communities we serve has never been more complicated than it is today, as we negotiate new and ever evolving challenges.
These challenges require us to coordinate, collaborate and communicate like never before to achieve our organisational vision of being the best at understanding and responding to the communities we serve.
However, one important issue has been a challenge since Peel established his policing principles in 1829. It’s a specific challenge, which many might argue is the most important thing of all – being trusted.
Without public trust, the principle of policing by consent is nothing more than an unattainable ideal.
During my time as the Chief, I have consistently said that not being trusted by all our communities should be something that we all worry about.
I’ve reflected on how I would feel if I was a member of a community that didn’t trust the police, the very people who should be there to protect us. How would I feel if my son or daughter had been a victim of crime and as I’m about to pick up the phone to call for help and seek justice, I think twice about making the call or perhaps don’t even make the call at all. It’s something that’s difficult for me to comprehend but I know this is true amongst some communities.
As we all know, people don’t get to choose their Police Service; they get us, whether they like it or not. The only choice they make is whether to engage with us or not, whether to call us or not, whether to help us or not.
The reality we face is that some communities trust us less because they don’t think that we represent them; they don’t think that we are there to help them; they don’t think that we will protect them or deliver justice for them.
And, as I stand here today our reality is that many of our minority communities don’t trust us, and black communities trust us the least of all.
And while the temptation might be to question and examine whether the lack of trust is justified or justifiable through evidence and statistics, this lack of trust is our problem to solve.
It does and should keep me awake at night and I’m clear we should do everything in our power to build trust and confidence amongst those we serve; their absence of choice, firmly and squarely places the responsibility for this challenge on our shoulders, on my shoulders.
We have made good progress in the area of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion over the past few years. It’s been a priority area for me in my delivery plan and will continue to feature in every delivery plan I develop in the future.
It’s imperative that this is the case, as we have well-established proudly diverse communities here in South Wales, and it’s important we understand, listen to and celebrate this heritage.
We also proudly recognise our heritage as an organisation and celebrate the pioneers who have gone before us.
Indeed, next week I will get an opportunity to do this when I present our annual Derrick Hassan award for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at our annual force awards ceremony.
Many of you will have known Derrick who was our first black police officer and who sadly passed away in May 2022.
Derrick joined South Wales Police in 1972 and during his service helped establish the South Wales BPA. Derrick retired in 2002 and in 2003 he received a commendation from the Black Police Association for his tireless and trail blazing work.
We were so proud to have Derrick’s wife Ceri join us at our 2022 annual awards event to present the award which will forever bear his name. Derrick was a pioneer; his courage should inspire us all.
These things are positive and reflect the importance we place on equality, and for those interested in figures our recruitment, retention and progression numbers for black and ethnic minority candidates are moving in the right direction.
But if I’m being honest, progress is still too slow and we’re still dealing with the challenges of deep-rooted mistrust, suspicion and sometimes hostility from some communities, especially black communities.
These feelings are understandable, and they permeate within communities across generations because of some historic and other more recent examples of discrimination and abuse from interactions with authority, including our service.
The trauma and pain this has caused and continues to cause, casts a long shadow of mistrust which is difficult to quantify.
I sincerely believe we have no chance of addressing the trust and confidence deficit among our black communities unless and until we acknowledge we have a deficit.
There is also little possibility of solving this problem if we don’t fully recognise it exists in the first place.
With this in mind, I will turn my attention to the term ‘Institutional Racism’. I do not speak on this matter on behalf of the whole of policing, but in my leadership role here in South Wales Police.
I also understand that there are different views across policing on this term, and it is true that it has tended to divide leadership on what the term actually means.
I acknowledge too, that there will be those that hold a different view from me, and I accept and respect them.
24 years ago, in his report on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Sir William Macpherson defined the term Institutional Racism as:
“The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.”
Baroness Casey, in your recent review, you set out your four tests of Institutional Racism in an effort to help further define the term. If you’ll allow me to paraphrase:
TEST 1. There are people with racist views and attitudes in the organisation.
TEST 2. Racism happens, but is ignored, accepted, and not reported. Many do not think it’s worth reporting.
TEST 3. Racism and bias are re-enforced through our systems.
TEST 4. Our black communities feel under protected and over policed
I have reflected upon these tests; I have spoken to my officers and staff, I have engaged with members of our communities, and I have looked at our service delivery.
Based on these definitions and my conversations it’s my view that the term institutional racism applies to South Wales Police.
I believe we have already made many statements to that effect; we just hadn’t acknowledged it explicitly and most importantly of all we had not communicated it to those communities who needed to hear it the most.
All the actions that we have put in place, before and during my time with South Wales Police, the consistent effort that we have given to equality in our workplace and all the attention that we have given to diversity and inclusion means that we have acknowledged that we have a problem, and we have recognised that we have so much more to do.
We have people with racist attitudes in South Wales Police. I have heard too many lived experiences of black and other ethnic minority officers to come to any other conclusion.
Some racism is overt and blatant. Where we find out about it, I have been clear that our response should be swift and uncompromising.
Some of it is much more subtle and beneath the surface, but if people are treated less favourably because of their race consciously or unconsciously, let’s be clear it is racism.
It’s a fact that many black and ethnic minority officers and staff experience racism at work, and it is routinely ignored, dismissed, or not spoken about.
I have spoken to too many current and former colleagues in the South Wales BPA who have lived experience of this racism and discrimination.
The saddest thing for me is that many colleagues don’t think it's worth reporting as they feel nothing will be done or it will worsen their situation.
Now, for those interested in figures I can confirm what many of you already know:
You are more likely to be stop searched if you are black.
more likely to have force used against you.
more likely to go to prison and more likely to raise a grievance at work.
The colour of someone’s skin negatively affects their experience with South Wales Police and the wider Criminal Justice System.
These are all facts in South Wales.
They are also facts which reflect the very definitions of Institutional Racism, be it Macpherson’s, Baroness Casey’s or any other leading definition you choose to use.
Our black communities think that they are under protected and overpoliced; and our data confirms that they have every right to believe that.
Which brings me to why do I think that we have already acknowledged this as South Wales Police?
Our response to the rise in conscious awareness amongst black communities about disadvantage and racism; our response to the Black Lives Matter protests; our response to poor representation amongst Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in South Wales Police; our response to disproportionate decisions and outcomes for black people and our response to the experiences of our own workforce all suggest we have recognised our challenge and our problem.
Our response has been considerable. Let me outline some of our actions and progress, not to suggest in any way that we have solved these challenges, but instead to show that we are so committed to the mission, we believe it’s worth investing time and resources into our response:
We have delivered a representative workforce recruitment programme since 2015, well before uplift began, in that time we have trebled our representation and retained black and Asian officers at a higher rate than the rest of the country. The sheer enthusiasm and passion shown by the team is inspiring - everyday they visit schools, colleges, universities, and community events. They organise sporting tournaments and a whole host of other activities to start conversations and promote our opportunities.
We offer tailor-made development to officers from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to support them in achieving their ambition.
Every part of our organisation has joined up mechanisms to address disproportionality in use of police powers, decision making and allocation of our resources.
Stop search disproportionality has halved in the last 2 years, you are now significantly less likely to be searched if you are black in South Wales than you were, but still more likely than if you are white. It’s not good enough, but its progress. It’s also worth noting that every stop search is reviewed and every search of a Black or Asian member of the community is further scrutinised by a Chief Inspector.
Our Independent advisory group, a diverse cross section of our communities, act as our critical friends, reviewing the use of our policing powers and advising us on how to deliver our services.
We have a dedicated EDI team and existing expertise which means we are one of the best resourced organisations across all public services in Wales to deliver our equalities mission.
We have recently launched our strategic equality plan which brings together all the best elements of the Police Race Action Plan, CJIW plan and NPCC guidance to ensure we have a co-ordinated way of mainstreaming delivery in every department, region and team.
Our EDI team has delivered thought provoking training and development. 5000 of my officers, staff and volunteers have engaged with our ‘Lets Talk about Race’ programme, a safe environment for them to learn and share experiences. This will soon go into its third series.
Our 1st line managers, such an important role within any organisation, are being trained to create inclusive teams, while senior leaders are being developed to lead with equality at the heart of their strategies.
Our employee appraisal system, Perform, requires an objective specifically around leading inclusivity for all staff and officers, this is a determined effort to make our workplace welcoming to all those who join us.
EDI forms a part of every force meeting; equality impact assessments are conducted for every organisation or policy change and a question is asked on every promotion or interview board.
These are all ways seek to influence and change our culture.
I could go on.
These examples of action are in direct response to the issue we know we have, but as I outlined, we just haven’t acknowledged it, and most importantly haven’t communicated it to our black communities.
It’s very important for me to make the point here that I am not criticising my officers, staff and volunteers in South Wales Police, the brilliant people who do brilliant things every day and who I’m proud to lead.
I am also not accusing them of conscious or purposeful exclusionary or racist behaviour towards those they protect, work with, and live with, and whilst I know this does happen on rare occasions in my organisation, I know the vast majority wouldn’t dream of behaving in this way.
I am simply making the point that our organisation, has to acknowledge this challenge, why? - because it must, to build trust and confidence with those who feel like our organisation has and continues to let them down.
It’s about all of us who make up South Wales Police, the current guardians of the exceptionally important duties we discharge, it’s about the organisation of which we are all proud to be part of, and which will outlive us all.
I’m looking to provide clear and visible leadership, demanding that my colleagues do all they can to ensure that we oversee real, tangible progress.
We will no doubt receive criticism from some quarters, and some may seek to interpret my message in a way that suits their personal views.
If it was easy, we would have done it years ago and I wouldn’t be addressing you here today.
Sure, we have made some progress, but not nearly enough to earn the trust of every community we serve.
So, as I made clear at the outset, I believe we have no chance of addressing the trust and confidence deficit among our black communities, unless we acknowledge we have a deficit.
Now I’m not naïve enough to believe that the statement I have made today will solve everything, but it is an important step, and important milestone on our journey, a journey we have been on for many years.
We now need to redouble our efforts to earn that trust which is so important for us to be able to effectively police by consent.
I personally commit to doing all I can in my leadership role to help make Wales an Anti-racist nation. I’ll also say that in Welsh as it’s so important:
Rwy’n ymrwymo’n bersonol i wneud popeth o fewn fy ngallu fel arweinydd i helpu i wneud Cymru’n genedl Wrth-hiliaeth.
Colleagues I am positive about the future and the way we respond to the challenges we face.
Together in Wales under the Criminal Justice in Wales plan we have made commitments which align to the Police Race Action Plan and our own Race Action plan. All of which has and continues to be championed by our own Police & Crime Commissioner Mr Alun Michael.
We will Challenge Racism wherever it occurs.
We will build an ethnically diverse workforce and develop our minority ethnic staff to become our future leaders.
We will listen and actively involve our communities and networks in decisions we make regarding policies and procedures, and we will coordinate our actions with them.
We will be transparent and accountable in all our actions and take on board the advice and feedback we receive, no matter how hard it is to hear.
We will educate our workforce regarding the communities we serve and how our policing affects them.
We will ensure we promote and achieve a fair service for those in the criminal justice system.
If we do this, the public, who as I said don’t get to choose their Police Service - will engage with us, will help us - and working together we will help keep the most vulnerable in our communities safe, we will support victims and bring criminals to justice.
It would be naive to think we can completely eradicate racism in Wales; but we can start to create a culture with zero tolerance of racism and change our systems and institutions to ‘design-out’ racism.
The success of our approach will also of course depend on continually checking progress and on listening to the lived experiences of our black communities. We want to move forward with their involvement in an open and honest way.
If we do, I have no doubt we will become the best at understanding and responding to our communities and together we will help keep South Wales safe.