Our Black Workforce Survey: We’re listening to make change
Police chiefs have reaffirmed their determination to ensure an anti-racist police service after 1,600 Black and Black heritage officers and staff across 44 forces gave their views on what it’s like to be a Black person in policing.
In May the Police Uplift Programme, working with the Police Race Action Plan, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), National Black Police Association (NPBA) and partners, launched the Our Black Workforce Survey. The survey is a commitment in the Police Race Action Plan, which aims to build an anti-racist police service and explain or change race disparities - Our Black Workforce Survey findings.
Key findings include:
Reasons for joining, then staying, are positive, with ‘having the opportunity to help people’ or ‘make change from within’ strongest throughout; There is a clear sense of responsibility to represent the Black or Black Heritage minority in policing. This can be seen as empowering or as a burden by respondents.
There are very different lived experiences between those from Black British, African and Caribbean backgrounds compared to those from mixed Black/White ethnicities. For example; Black, African or Caribbean employees feel more excluded and are more likely to hide elements of their culture from colleagues than those from mixed backgrounds.
Half of respondents chose to hide attributes such as music tastes, social or religious activities. For two-fifths this was their family heritage or origin.
Incidents of racial discrimination and harassment as well as everyday racial slights, putdowns and insults - whether intentional or unintentional - are common amongst those who participated within the last year within the police force. These are often not acted upon and reporting of incidents is low and outcomes are often highly dissatisfying and lead to the complainant feeling further ostracised. These experiences have a strong effect on feelings of worth and belonging, perceived opportunity to progress and increase the desire of respondents to leave policing.
However, line manager are largely considered to be supportive when discussing issues such as inappropriate behaviour by colleagues, including discrimination and harassment.
Positive Action initiatives are viewed in a good light when used, but there needs to be more awareness of them
This survey is the first of its kind in policing. It will be used as a benchmark before it is run again next year to track if and how experiences are changing as a result.
The findings of the survey have been studied in detail. Focus groups will be held from January to March 2023 to interrogate the key themes and determine action across policing to address them and improve the experiences of Black people in policing.
Focus groups will be held with sergeants and team leaders, Black and Black Heritage officers and staff and chief officers as well as the National Black Police Association and volunteers from those who participated in the research, to identify the changes required, action needed and how progress can be tracked.
The recommended changes from the focus groups will then be considered by the NPCC, the College of Policing and chief constables to implement changes to policies, procedures and culture
Focus groups will consider the following themes:
Harnessing the motivation of the Black workforce to make a difference from within without feeling problems are theirs to solve alone
Bringing ones-self to work – better understanding of the barriers to, and the impact of this, to facilitate change;
Bullying, harassment and discrimination – tackling this behaviour and improving support to victims
Embedding ‘opportunities’ available to support Black and Black Heritage colleagues throughout their policing career
Deputy Chief Constable Tyron Joyce, Programme Director for the Police Race Action Plan, said: “ “The findings of this survey give us important insight into the experience some of our Black colleagues and how they feel about policing. We now need to use this knowledge to bring about real change.
“Over the next three months, the Police Uplift Programme, alongside policing, will be working with officers and staff to delve deeper into the findings and look for workable solutions we can put into practice through the Police Race Action Plan.
“I am committed to addressing the negative experiences of Black people in policing and harnessing their motivation to drive change to get closer to our aim of becoming a truly inclusive, anti-racist police service.”