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Consultation – my foot is this consultation

October 20, 2006

Post Macpherson, there have been many practices that are deemed to have actually “corrupted police and race relations.” In terms of consultation with the disaffected community, many police managers still consider that consulting with recognised minority ethnic members of the community, the CRE, etc. is enough, based on their own experiences. It does not appear to have mattered to some Leaders whether these people have an understanding of racism’s or diversity or even experience of racism’s.

A fact remains that this type of consultation has been going on for years, it is allowed to continue and it overtly has tended to exclude those minority ethnic people that are disaffected by ‘race’, i.e. it excludes the type of person that the police are likely to come into contact with in confrontational situations, and perhaps this is a natural process for White ethnocentric managers.

The police service must move beyond this position quickly to police ‘race’ disaffection fairly equitably without stereotyping negatively these groups. Indeed such consultation is “cosy and complacent” because the police service has been able to overtly show and measure this process as a positive change in terms of “consultation” strategically, but the reality of this consultation has mean this is more no more than a “tick in the box”. Furthermore, such is this behaviour that it exists generically in mainstream partners also.

Sadly though, it is the police service that is the ‘expert’ in maintaining “old style” systems, but it is the service that holds one of the keys to the success, failure, and competence in relation to race relations and society. As a further and associated example, it is widely recognise in policing circles that some managers within key functions, e.g. Race, have overtly made this strategic action “practically corrupt” by choosing who within the BPA they consult with, or who within the BPA the organisation can afford to give “power” to.

Some Black officers have not been innocent in this. Therefore individual police organisations need to be very clear in terms of consultation as to whether they wish to foster an honest and open type relationship with their own BPA and with the communities based on ethics of good understanding for example, or whether they wish to foster a ‘master/pet’ relationship which changes with the skills and beliefs of senior management. Evidence has shown that ‘race’ can no longer be an area upon which Chief Officers can compromise on by such attitudes and behaviour depicted above; behaviours, which are arguably also very clear examples of institutional racism. Such practices are not constructive; they prolong the change, and maintain a ‘false’ race relations industry both inside and outside the police service.

And therefore it can be gleaned with some confidence that managers right up the management chain of ‘race’ are working well within there own “comfort zones” and these zones do not assist in dismantling the unequal “racial” status quo. In essence, and in order to dismantle some of these corrupting practices all police organisations really need to ask themselves some critical questions: Who are they consulting with? What understanding do these people have in relation to racism’s? What academic background or experience do these people have? What advise can these people bring to the internal anti racist managerial stance and the operational effectiveness of policing disaffected minority ethnic communities fairly? And whom do these people actually represent? It is these types of questions that the middle and senior police managers have been very keen to ignore to date.

Indeed some of the people that the service consults with cannot impact on the issue of trust between the police service and the minority ethnic communities, and since trust is a key issue that the Macpherson report had asked the service to consider and build upon, the police service cannot have said to have yet achieved in this key area.

With these type of practices occurring in respect of the established visible minority ethnic communities 20 years after the ‘race’ riots; (Black, Asian, etc.); then one can only deduce that the consultation with “new minority ethnic communities is equally corrupted from the outset and the dangerous aspect in relation to new communities is that, these communities have little experience of the service and will remain as trusting as the established communities have been in the past, only to be abused” by personal incompetence and a culture of denial.”

Sadly where genuine attempts had been made at consulting with real people of integrity from the communities, those in power inside have been quick to pull the plug on these people. Such false conditions are merely setting the whole service up, and more importantly, front line delivery, to experience yet another significant Lawrence type incident involving the established minority communities; and now even perhaps the new communities also, and this is indeed complacent.

In reality, if the service is unable to place key minority ethnic people in key strategic positions when they actually exist inside the organisation; then this is simply just not good enough anymore and organisations of this type are deemed to be paying total “lip service” to the ethos and meaning of race equality.

The changes suggested here may be deemed by some as reverse discrimination but what other option does the service now have? Since there is no equal opportunity for marginalised BLACK people inside anyway, but there is equality of opportunity that is white ethnocentric, for those Black colleagues that toe the party line, it is only a matter of time until changes are forced. The disaffected Black community should not be demeaned in this way, nor should those police officers that are Black and that stand up to the truth of corruption. There is only so long that establishment can hold on to this power and fool others into thinking otherwise.

In order to necessarily break the culture of ‘ice’ management and ensure that the service now responds positively and with real integrity to ‘race’ issues rapidly perhaps the service would like to start by dismantling the structure of the “mess” that so inappropriately appears to be a selection ground for promotion and progression.

If the police service does not change now after repeated efforts and external pressures since the 1980’s then the service and it’s managers are lining themselves up for firstly riots where innocent police officers may be hurt and killed and potentially forced change via government intervention.
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