The demise of the Shireshire BPA

March 28, 2007

Since the launch of the Shireshire Black Police Association many many years ago, one could argue that it’s history and achievements have been mixed. Sadly some members have used the BPA as a means to an end, a means of getting promotion, whilst ignoring the real issue of ensuring some racial equality. After promotion they move out. Race equality is not like that. But this might be true of any organisation.

At the time of launch of the local BPA the vision was good, but who would have thought back then that we would have had any idea that we would not be allowed to reach our freedom or destiny. And at any given time the BPA has been only as good as the education and understanding of those members that have formed a part of it. Back in 1999 I remember speaking and advising the then Chief Constable that we had no agenda, we just wanted race equality. He simply did not have a clue, nor did he wish to listen to me. I am afraid police leaders have largely missed the point.

The BPA has risen from having no budget, and no post, to a reasonable budget, a dedicated post but little more. For example it has been made clear to the BPA that it should not use the budget for the legal fees of colleagues pursuing claims against the Force. This “tokenistic” approach has been largely welcomed by some leaders in the organisation and this position is no different to the position of the National Black Police Association. One knows therefore one is not welcome.

If an organisation is set up with no structure and incompetence then it has been set up to fail. If the BPA has no real freedom or voice, what is it’s point other than to serve it’s masters in a new slaverised system. It is not unusual that those that speak out are labelled “radicals” and those that toe the party line are given career aspirations. The police organisation’s leaders wrongly believe it can understand race and entrusts a subject which causes murder, riots, Black on Black gun crime, etc. to people that have never experienced racism or have never themselves been marginalised, and in other words are a safe pair of hands.

And really this is a farcical and institutionally racist position, but one which extends not just to Shireshire, but across all Forces. How can this position help the marginalised communities of Shireshire, the communities that the BPA is there to protect and support? The answer is simple, this position was not meant to assist the community. The BPA is largely a PR exercise. It was however meant only to serve the purpose of ticking a box for the HMIC to show things as improving, whilst in reality any achievement is hampered.

It is almost as if the position post Macpherson towards anti racism is one of total and systemic entrenchment and one in which leaders nationally should be held accountable for game playing.

The sheer numbers of Black Probationers that experience a negative intervention during their probation raises very serious questions, issues which some of us feel, have been systematically swept under the carpet. White officers that challenge in support of Black officers that have suffered alleged racism are penalised and Black officers that mention “race” are ignored. The higher echelons hope that these people and the problem will go away. But the truth simply won’t budge.

The intervention rate for Asian female officers in Shireshire is dire, yet we wish to recruit more ethnic colleagues. This is an absurd position. The numbers of colleagues that have sought to seek some justice through employment tribunals locally and nationally suggest that the nature of the problem of institutional racism has not even been touched by the organisation post Macpherson, (denial and collusion are rife, if only in the name of ignorance). How many of our leaders have been on race relation courses run by qualified people? One wonders whether their elitism and leadership exempts them. Within the tribunal system, despite the best efforts of some of the Chairs of Tribunals, Black colleagues have felt the harsh reality of brutal HR practices and procedures that are not only torturous to the individual victims of racism but to their families also.

Simple games such as talking to the Black colleague supporter whilst ignoring the applicant are part of the course of HR operations. And then “deals at dawn”, at the very last moment, take no account of the stresses caused to applicants. Thereafter, when the organisation has a debrief, do the debriefs involve those Black colleagues that have gone to tribunal seeking some justice. The answer is, no, they do not, but how hypocritical this is, is an indication of an entrenched attitude with HR being a major culprit of racism. Systems designed to protect individuals, actually institutionalise racism further, and these systems far from being anti racist are actually morally corrupt. Chief Constables should know what is going in, after all this race inequality and racial bullying of Black people and the BPA goes on in Force’s, but Chief Constables distance themselves relying not on personal intervention but on the protection offered to them by vicarious liability.

There comes a point when BPA’s must consider their true worth. If BPA’s are shackled and unable to have any real impact on race equality, and where race equality is mocked by do good liberals who undermine the life and death of Stephen Lawrence by their action and inaction, perhaps the time has come to rethink passive resistance. For the BPA to pull out of strategic meetings, training, recruitment, etc. is not a big thing. This is not the first time we have considered taking this type of action. God forbid, should the BPA fold in Shireshire, this would be a terrible indictment on the Shireshire Police for failing race equality, and an indictment on the service. Of course the leaders might conjure up a new genre of “tokens”, but the question is, would this really fool the public, or make the public realise that actually what we are saying here is the truth.

These might appear to be drastic actions, but it is better to have one’s dignity than be “used.” None of these actions of pulling out have anything to do with the honest work carried out by most colleagues in the Shireshire Police, but these actions have everything to do with leadership amongst police organisations, a leadership that is not intent on the truth or justice but more intent on keeping up a false reputation before moving on to a higher promotion. It is a wonder that the HMIC has not identified these core feelings, but this only questions the independence of the HMIC and it’s loyalty to Chief Officers. For now, the message is clear. The treatment of BPA’s is hardly civilised in 2007. Perhaps therefore it is time to call it a day. In all my years I have never known a time as this and am thankful at least that one group, the Police Federation, does an awful lot more for race equality than the Police organisation itself. (Note: At a recent meeting with a senior officer I was advised that I had issues with the senior management in Shireshire and I should perhaps leave, and the senior officer did not mean leave the meeting: that’s when one knows for having an alternative view one is not welcome).



  1. (Note: At a recent meeting with a senior officer I was advised that I had issues with the senior management in Shireshire and I should perhaps leave, and the senior officer did not mean leave the meeting: that’s when one knows for having an alternative view one is not welcome).

    Maybe he’s just bored with you droning on and on and on and on?

  2. Who said it was a he? Did I? God knows what sort of people blogging brings. Some are just terrorists and their aim is to sabotage.

  3. It has been said before: these Associations are merely another level of control, causing those most affected to think that they are doing something which will allow them to improve their own lot, while giving outsiders the impression that something constructive is being done, about something.

  4. He or She? OK, ‘They’ think you should leave. Better? ‘Terrorists’? Get real matey. Be a police officer or LEAVE! Simple. Join the BPA and change from within or DON’T. Simple.

    PS: Who funds the BPA? The members fees can’t fund everything? All those ‘fact-finding’ trips abroad.

  5. Listen matey, you don’t seem to have the ounce to police racism.

    If you had realised the importance of race you would have detected the Lawrence murder.

    I don’t do fact finding trips so go off. The BPA is not funded as a slave.

  6. There are aren’t any members fees.

  7. and the answer to my funding question is?

  8. The Home Office funds the NBPA and Forces fund the BPA’s. And your point is? Just because we are funded does not mean we have to behave like slaves.

  9. Black in Blue, I’m trying to understand what it is your saying (forgive me if I sound rude or stupid!).
    Are you saying the BPA are not effective due to its senior members being ineffective (due to personal aspirations/ambitions), or the BPA is not allowed to be effective due to its organization/position within the police or a bit of both?

    The most basic (and ignorant) question I have is: What in YOUR personal opinion, should the aim of the BPA be?

    As I (possibly incorrectly) see it, if the BPA is not allowed to assist with legal fees for its members (who I assume are claiming for discrimination?), does not act as an information/support service for the black community, and does not act as an expert consultation group for the police….erm, what do they do? Or are they suppose to do one/all of those things and I’ve missed it?

    With regards you comment on the Lawrence murder- I found it stinging in its reality. My own police training (yup, the diversity awareness course) went in-depth about how policing changed following the revelations of the shocking cock-ups made by the police investigating what was clearly a racially motivated stabbing. It was horrifying.

    I would have thought organizations such as the BPA would have been an excellent driving force in changing how the police work. Likewise, I thought operations like Trident would have utilized the experiences/backgrounds/knowledge of black police officers-is that not the case-and if not, should it be so?

    I say that because I know many officers who have had little contact with anyone who was not white and from a completely different social/economic/racial/religious background from themselves, (partly due to the part of England I’m based). I would have thought when communication and empathy is needed with a community, someone who understands the specific problems faced by that community would be a invaluable to all concerned, rather than a person to whom it is all completely new and understands little of the community. Is that not the case?

    Incidentally, who hasn’t got an issue with senior management?-If everyone leaves who doesn’t agree with senior management, there wouldn’t be a good bobby left!

    Keep up the good work Black in Blue!


  10. Thanks for the answer…at last.

  11. Andy,

    Thank you for your kind comments. Ok here goes. Hope this helps.

    (1) The fundamental aim of a BPA must be to strive for anti racism in society, and if that includes offending members who practice racism’s, then so be it. Black members of different faiths do practice racism’s, but don’t admit it.

    (2) To strive for anti racism we have a wealth of experiences to offer, but only the selected few are allowed in. There is absolutely no point in consulting with the minority ethnic middle class because this just ups their ego and makes the CC look good. Still we do this. Those in power refuse to consult with youth workers because they might give the incorrect answer.

    (3) A Diversity Unit must not work towards protecting the organisation against anti racism if the anti racism claims are genuine. Lawyers can act on behalf of the organisation. These are fundamental flaws that exist.

    (4) We all have choice, we can be anti racist or racist. There is no middle ground.

    (5) My personal view is we can forgive ignorance, but any hint of malicious racism is difficult to forgive.

    (6) Diversity training is as good as the trainer and the individual that wants to take part. Colleagues need effective training and we need to admit we do stereotype. The problem is indirect discrimination in relation to race is unlawful, so maybe the law is an ass in this way. Post 7/7 in the case of De Menezes I would suggest that racial stereotyping came to play. We got it terribly wrong. The stereotypes were there for all to see, yet someone made a big mistake and we promote them. We still can’t admit it.

    (7) Sadly the BPA is a club. The organisation plays games, therefore some in the BPA play stupid games. Race relations is not a game. The ineffectiveness of the NBPA is partly as a result of what Senior Managers want. They don’t want loose canons, and partly as a result of the ego’s of sone Black colleagues given power. I have seen Black officers take the legs of other Black officers, and the one taking the legs was the one out of order. Most NBPA leaders have done this.

    (8) There are many Black colleagues on the periphary.I have seen Black tokens given power in the NBPA movement who have said in front of the ACPO Officer in charge of race, that they are economical with the truth because they fear they may lose their privileges. This, to me, is slavery of the worst form. As an institution the NBPA has been historically too Black African Caribbean linked, hence the stupidity of other associations forming.

    (9) I have seen some good colleagues out there, and all we can do is be honest. Wishing you well. You have my email address if you need to email.

  12. To the anoymous that said the Senior Officer might be bored. Well the Colonial Leaders were bored with Gandhi, and the Met’s leaders were bored with the Lawrence’s. Gandhi was described as insignificant. Neither Gandhi nor the Lawrence’s were wrong.

  13. Dream on Gandhi II……..

  14. Why thank you! Don’t the BNP have enough bloggs to pester.

  15. Why BNP? I’m nothing to do with the BNP, its pathetic how you always resort to that cheap and easy jibe. It’s all the more strange when you have actually used some of my previous commnets in your blog, where you said I raised some valid points about the BPA. Bizarre!

  16. Anonymous, how many anonymous people are there? This is not open for abuse…..

  17. What is the world coming to?

  18. Has the BPA movement failed because it has failed to ‘continue the revolution’?

    In a manner akin to Robespierre, once the BPA had won it right to be formally acknowledge it then turned upon itself and laid waste to those that either had started or wished to continue the ‘revolution’ of change in order to bring about a more just service.

    In order to wins friends with ‘their masters’ many within the movement sold their not only their souls but also their brothers and sisters who did not feel that an equitable place had been reached. This is nothing new in Black history as throughout the old colonies once independence had been gained the ‘Brown Sahibs’ quickly eradicated those people who actually enabled them to take over for the change that these new masters wanted was of the same kind desired by the ‘Pigs’ in Animal Farm.

  19. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6521011.stm

    Amazing what you can do with a good BPA behind you – he must have spent the last lot of wedge

  20. There is no mention of the BPA in that BBC News article, so I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

  21. Anonymous last, I couldn’t see a link, so I guess it’s a dig from anonymous before you. There are people who have nothing constructive to add so they terrorise and confuse.

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