Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said:
“These figures and recent events are a reminder of the importance of the ongoing work to ensure that Cleveland Police better reflects the diversity of the area it serves and officers discharge their duties appropriately and without bias.
“We have seen some progress in this area but there is still much to do.
“The public expect Cleveland Police to ensure that every stop & search is scrupulously evidence-based and that any use of force is not influenced by unconscious bias. Equally, the police must be able to act on evidence and take the necessary enforcement action when needed to protect our communities.
“On behalf of the public of Cleveland, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner plays a key role in monthly meetings in which data on stop & search and use of force is robustly analysed. Since 2018, every six months these issues are discussed by Cleveland Strategic Independent Advisory Group, a panel of community representatives who act as a ‘critical friend’ to the Force.
“It is through these scrutiny mechanisms that police colleagues, my Office and independent members can assess whether the Force’s use of such powers are fair and proportionate, by examining other contextual information and statistics. Their in-depth analysis at ward level shows, for example, that stop & search of BAME individuals is higher in the areas of Cleveland with a larger BAME population.
“It is important these most recent figures receive the same analysis and I will be ensuring the validity of this data is looked at in greater detail by these groups in the weeks and months to come.
“However, there is always room for improvement in any aspect of a police force’s performance as an employer and as a service provider.
“I have faced criticism in the past for investing heavily in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) agenda, but I make no apology for striving to achieve diversity in the police workplace and improving understanding of our communities. Throughout my time as PCC, I have engaged regularly with diverse communities across Cleveland to ensure their voice is heard.
“We’re proud to have a new and unique arrangement in which I as PCC invest in a committed and inspirational team to lead the EDI agenda, ensuring the ongoing Everyone Matters programme is appropriately funded and staffed to drive meaningful organisational and cultural change within the Force.
“To date the award-winning programme has supported over 250 officers and staff to learn more about diverse groups through training, delivered Cleveland’s first Blue Light Mental Health conference and developed programmes to empower and up-skill the workforce. A team of experts are developing the Force’s latest EDI strategy.
“I’ve been committed to driving Everyone Matters since its launch in 2017 and a new, refreshed focus on the programme will be a central commitment in my new Police and Crime Plan, due to be published in July.
“Like many organisations, Cleveland Police have recognised that their workforce needs to better represent the communities they serve. Encouraged and supported by my Office, they are on a journey to more effectively attract and support individuals from diverse backgrounds to pursue a career in policing.
“Through a programme of positive action, Cleveland Police has increased the number of police officers and staff from BAME (black and minority ethnic) backgrounds. BAME individuals made up 4.4% of all new police officers joining the Force during 2019-20. Since February 2019, 1 in 4 BAME applicants who engaged in positive action workshops have gone on to secure employment as police officers.
“The international activism which has taken place over the last two weeks is a reminder that all organisations should be reviewing how well they serve and represent diverse communities – and Cleveland Police should be no different. On behalf of Cleveland residents, I will be seeking further clarity from the Chief Constable about how he will review current police-led scrutiny processes, ensuring they provide adequate assurances about the proportionate and fair use of police powers."
Chief Constable Richard Lewis said:
“Some of you will have taken part in the Black Lives Matter protests, many more of you will have witnessed them on television or social media. The wave of grief and determination for change that has followed the death of George Floyd in America is an historic moment not just in the United States but globally.
“We serve a population of more than 550,000 people. People of all races and cultures, of all faiths and none. Our officers are drawn from our communities, many were born here, raised here and others have chosen to come to Teesside bringing families with them. This is important because if we can truly be a mirror of those we serve, we can serve them better. This is what we are striving to do.
“We have a newly established Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team helping to drive change and make a real difference, including providing training, supporting officers through the promotion process and ensuring all our policies and procedures are built around inclusivity
“In recruitment we’ve placed an empathise on diversifying our workforce which is starting to produce real, tangible, results. In our towns and villages our new neighbourhood teams are starting to build bridges and reconnected with communities. We are doing so much, and will do so much more.
“Although we are not yet at the end of our journey, we are on that path and we will get there. It’s the right thing to do. We are proud to serve you all, and it is absolutely right that our local newspaper holds us to account - as you all must - so that we never falter on this journey.”
Posted on Tuesday 9th June 2020