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Another live story from a colleague.

April 28, 2007

Another true story relating to a serving Special. “It was me that asked the question you answered in you blog so well, thank you for doing that. I have not signed my comments, as I don’t want to keep putting “—-” at the end, just in case some one else does when its not actually me! I should really register, but never seem to have the time. You probably sussed it was me anyway, but thought I’d drop you a private line on the matter. I read your response to my question after working the Friday night on response. It was an excellent post, and what really struck me was your comment about front line police officers making a difference to race relations, especially after my last job in the early hours of Saturday morning. So I thought I’d share it with you, its not race-related as such, but relates to serving people from a marginalised community that suffer regular stereotyping and discrimination. As I have explained, my area has few people of different race, though I have seen the more of the diversity in our community as my experience grows. One community we do have is a small Polish community. They are often discriminated against, and I only ever hear people be less than complimentary about them, which winds me up no-end!

My first contact with our Polish members was when 4 of them flew past us in a car at 110mph. I was with an experienced and very decent traffic officer. We paced them, pulled them, and PNC’d the car-No insurance, so the car was arranged to be taken. The group in the car were struggling to understand English, afraid, distrustful, and appeared honest. After a roadside chat, it appeared to be a mix-up with insurance, no criminal or dishonest intent. The reason for their speed was one of their group was going to miss a flight back to Poland for a wedding.

Now, however, they were seriously concerned we were going to lock them all up! So we drove the person to the airport, as fast as we could, arriving just in time. She was so so happy (and a little shaky)! We drove back to the others, who were waiting in their car. We had took the car key off them before we left, but they had a spare which they used to put the engine on to keep warm while they waited. So many people would have drove off! We advised the driver about his speed, and left it there. Poor bloke had enough on with a fine and bills for having his car towed away, for what was a genuine mistake.

So we stood there chatting as the sun rose, waiting for their friend to pick them up. Conversation covered the police, insurance, road law, before turning to personal matters like their favourite Polish food, the hours they work, their homes, jobs, and how they see life in England. We answered their questions about ourselves, our lives, partners, my day job, and what it’s like to be a police officer. Their friend arrived some time later to pick them up, and it was smiles and handshakes all round (despite seizing the poor fella’s car!).

We were the first contact they had ever had with the police, and they had heard all sorts of horrible storeys about what we are like, and distrusted us immensely (and likewise to an extent). However, when they left, we shared mutual trust, respect, and even admiration for each other. I’d like to think we made the police approachable in these good peoples eyes, professional but honest and caring, even if it was just for rushing the lady to the airport. It wasn’t regulation, a new policy, or a boss’s idea, just front-line policing, by two people who want to make a positive difference to the society they live in, by trying to serve it well.

I’m ignorant on many issues regarding policing, race, community and diversity, as many are new to me, but I try and learn. I got home that morning and read your blog, and it made sense. I’ll lead the very best I can. Please keep the blog going! Take care.” Twining’s response: Sorry I have taken so long to publish this. Thank you for letting me use these words. You highlight a very important point about stereotyping of new communities and we all stereotype, except Senior Officer’s and the CRE! We’re human, what you did was humane. That counts thousands and there are plenty of good police officer’s like you about.

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