Memorandum of understandings – what a load of….

August 6, 2009

Preconceived racially stereotypical organisational perceptions of the Black Police Association movement, (e.g born again 1960’s, anti racist, left wing agitating and loony, radical, badly behaving group), exist amongst many within the Police establishment. In fact the term “tiddly winks” to describe the organisational antics of some BPA’s is not unheard of. That some BPA’s are ineffective is another proper view, but then what is ineffective?

Is ineffective something that describes a group that cannot function to offer support to its members, such that it is so closely allied with the views of the SMT that it is no longer independent. Yes, most BPA’s are this enigma and still they are unliked. In such cases BPA’s exist only as a tick box for the yearly HMIC inspection by the suits. Or is ineffective something that has the ability to ask questions but cannot perform due to the restrictions placed on it from its ethnocentric masters?

That the part played by BPA’s in policing somehow needs superior establishment control has led to the development of a form of understanding between the support group and the organisation; the dreaded concept of Service Level Agreements, (SLA’s). What a farce this is. No doubt some bosses will be promoted on SLA’s. Such agreements are flawed by the precise colonial mentality and desire of those in power to control minority interest, (of course they think they know best), our bosses always do, but so did Colonial slave owners back then.

The subject group is then moulded into a organisational fitting body, an arm, a puppet of the powers to be, a “yes man.” The idea of these agreements is largely a HR concept, and often HR are never there when you need them, but it is a very ill thought through management construct designed by people who have grown up in an era where either their understanding of race is tainted by their upbringing or they couldn’t give a cahoots. These protagonists are in positions of power, and only so, because of the people they have trampled on to get there. What understanding would they have of equality or inequality? None.

Gone are the days that BPA’s will be given full time co-ordinators; and admittedly some BPA officials have abused these positions only because they were set up to fail. The yearly jolly to the United States at £3000 per person, that equates to £45,000 if 15 people from this country attend an international conference, is another joke. Not that the police service would support sending one person from each Force to a jolly about domestic violence and honour in the Asian community in India. This has never happened! Two playing fields.

We can’t seem to share information amongst Forces but when Black people want the same jollies we umm and arr. Surely there are better ways to spend funding. We, for one, would like to see this sort of funding used to assist minority ethnic youths through university, youths that might not otherwise have got there. Or we would like to see this used to support Black kids that are good but don’t have funding to start a career. What better way is there to show the police care about Black issues? But the BPA still rather prefers jollies.

In are the days of budget cuts and complacency where some in power have forgotten the lessons, if any, of Lawrence, such that the next blatant racial mistake of similar magnitude will begin to cost individual and senior management groups their careers. In are the days where leaders can dictate to the tune of unwitting racial prejudice that, irrespective of their individual social standing, each group will be given precisely the same number of resources.

Service Level Agreements can take significant freedoms away from BPA’s. An agreement implying that the group will support the recruiting of minority ethnic people, e.g. freedom to withdraw from recruiting, is another cahoot! Race is still a taboo and hated subject such that the diversity industry has grown so badly that people are beginning to dislike any Black person that says racism is HERE.

Some managers fail dismally to recognise that a unique relationship between the marginalised Black community and an effective BPA is of paramount importance; to prevent incidents like the 80’s riots. The community has precise expectations of such groups when a lack of real commitment to race equality has potentially very dangerous consequences that affect them. The poorest Black people don’t want people like Gulab Jamun, the sweety.

They, Black, youth can see this tokenism a mile away and seeing a Black officer stand up as a token is the worst sight ever; yet there may be countless examples of this up and down the country. Once these management tools, (SLA’s), take away this freedom of action, an agitating group can no longer agitate and it is not the BPA that is in control of its destiny, or the destiny of those affected by racism.

This is when we begin to realise that the BPA movement has gone so beyond the grave, that it is now 6’ underground, and it is dead and buried if the master slave relationship evolves a new turn. However, a memorandum of understanding as an understanding which does not dictate solely what is of importance to the Force is one that may have some merit if it recognises the unique nature of the role of associations initially set up as a response to historical white racism and dominance against Black people.

The numerous soldiers at the bottom of the rungs do not care about this hierarchical PC, they actually treat people properly by and large. An effective, challenging and articulate BPA adds value to policing; a Black Officer that dons the uniform becomes a role model without stepping onto the streets. But racism is still the most taboo subject within the remit of diversity, for one cannot hold back one’s identity. Now, if the tokenistic Diversity Units across Forces have brought us to this position in 10 years we ask, what on earth are these Units doing? How much money has-been wasted in creating this falseness?

The middle classes, with a help of some Black colleagues, have set up a false race relation’s industry, spewing money into the drain under the name of diversity. From what we have seen we would say close these units down nationally because even within these units the scourge of racism and sexism appears to carry on unchallenged. In this blog piece two suggestions are therefore being made: (1) That the BPA should stop jollies and fund Minority ethnic kids to try and break down barriers between the police and the Black communities. Give these kids a chance so that they realise the police aren’t so bad. (2) Dismantle Diversity Units that are weak now. If these changes can bring us back on an even field then ask yourselves why people like us, will never be allowed into the Diveristy machinery? It’s the “C” word.

By and large White middle class people do not share the same experience of racial discrimination that Black people do and therefore any allegation is taken as a personal attack on them as a manager. Memmi, states, “There is a strange kind of enigma associated with the problem of racism. No one, or almost no one, wishes to see they themselves as racist; still racism persists, real and tenacious.” Let us not forget that in tackling racism we are dealing with legislation that was initially developed to tackle white racism.

And these agreements, these SLA’s, are they effective budget management, a sham tinged in some silly Colonialism or a bit of both? You decide.



  1. Good piece Sergeant. You know, I worked on a community unit in one of the most deprived areas of Utopia for a year. My colleagues were over 100 social workers and I the lone policeman. Many of them were from visible ethnic minorities, and were initially distrustful of me. However, over time they realised I was committed to helping young people and did not possess an ounce of prejudice or racism. I’m friends with some of them 4 years on. It was the same with the young people, they saw a white police officer who cared, liked jokes, music, talked about girls etc. How many times I heard, “You’re alright…for a copper. You’re not racist like I heard coppers are”. Don’t send out token black officers as you say, send out the white male officers to engage more.

  2. Thank you boss.

    There are several ways to really engage, but we must do it properly as you allude to.

    Still some of use are not allowed into the BPA movement at the highest levels because we rock their boat too.

    Sgt T.

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