The Policy and Resources Committee, the City’s main decision-making Committee, unanimously agreed to set up a working group to look at we are doing to tackle racism in all its forms. The Tackling Racism Working Party will assess whether the City Corporation could take any further action to promote economic, educational and social inclusion. It will also consider how to respond to historical issues, such as statues and monuments.
We also discussed this important issue at the City of London’s Police Authority Board. As a Board member I lead on diversity and community relations and I specifically asked the Police Commissioner about the details of Covid19 penalty notices issued by the City Police and progress on getting more BAME colleagues to join the City of London Police.
During the lockdown our officers have focussed on engagement rather than issuing penalty notices – which means the numbers are low. Only 20 penalty notices were issued in the Square Mile; but 50% of recipients were from BAME background. Something we will look further into when we discuss stop and search data in more detail at Professional Standards & Integrity Committee, on which I serve. Detailed stop and search data can be viewed online here.
Black lives matter
In response of recent events in US, UK and globally, the new Chair of the Police Authority Board, Cllr James Thompson, told the Board:
“We have all been shocked by George Floyds death and we have all been disturbed by events following his death in connection with both the protests and the policing of it including some of the footage this morning.
Rightly, that has caused members and the public to ask questions about UK policing, its record on its track record of equality, the treatment of BAME people and bias and in policing public order.
I think it is fair to say that the track record of policing in the UK is, in comparison to many countries, good.
But it is not perfect and more still needs to be done in ensuring that the diversity of those in policing more fairly reflects the people it polices.
Further with regards to policing, racial bias remains a matter that requires continuous review, education, training and monitoring by both those in policing and the bodies that have oversight of policing in this country including the Police Authority Board.
It is why we have a Professional Standards & Integrity Committee, it is why complaints with any racial allegations are closely looked at, it is why we track diversity in officer and staff numbers, it is why policing is transparent on Stop & Search and these are externally scrutinised.
Policing in the UK is policing by consent. To have that policing must have the public support and to do that it must have public trust. The Police Authority, the Police Authority Board has a role to ensure that. We must ensure equality and inclusion, eliminate bias and there must be zero tolerance to racism.”
Cllr Thompson is absolutely right policing in the UK is policing by consent and it is essential the Police have the support and trust of the public. As Policy Authority Board we have a crucial role to play to ensure this is protected by setting the right priorities and holding the leadership of the City of London Police to account.
But it is equally important we stand up for our officers. The violence directed to officers who were on duty over the recent days by either a minority of amongst peaceful protestors or by the right wing thugs travelling into central London this weekend is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. It is never OK to attack an officer (or a Police horse!).
In addition to the oversight that the Police Authority Board has in relation to equality, inclusivity and ensuring policing remains fair and unbiased will remain forefront of the work that it does and the work that is already being done by the City of London Police in this area, recognising that much still remains to be done Cllr Thompson set out five priority areas as new Chair of the Policy Authority Board:
- Support the City of London Police’s position as National Lead Force on Fraud and how it develops that with the evolving thinking of the Home Office as well as how it collaborates and works with other stakeholders in combatting fraud and cyber enabled crime including the private sector, other law enforcement agencies and the other police forces nationally
- Focus on how the Force improves the service of Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau in the reporting, tackling and prevention of fraud following the review by Sir Craig Mackay
- Force to deliver on its Local Policing Plan. As a core part of that, to ensure that the Force makes the most of the opportunity of current lower levels of crime, its recent focus on crime reduction, combined with a performance led and measurable approach to improving crime reduction – and suppressing its increase – following the phased lifting of lockdown particularly in the area of violent crime.
- Ensure that the Police operates on a sound financial footing with robust financial controls in relation to its revenue and capital position and to ensure it continues to build on the work it has already done in this area
- And finally, to ensure that the Force delivers on its Transform programme and to effectively implement its new operating model, to improve the efficiency of the fantastic service it delivers