Gloucestershire Constabulary response to the national Race Action Plan

Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Chief Constable has pledged to meet the commitments of a new National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Race Action Plan launched today (Tuesday 24 May).

Developed by the NPCC and College of Policing, the Police Race Action Plan: Improving Policing for Black People contains the following commitments for UK policing: – Zero tolerance of racism – Addressing the negative impact and outcomes experienced by Black communities – Understanding the history of policing Black communities and the ongoing impact and trauma of disproportionality – The development of a representative workforce – Increasing the involvement of Black communities in our work and improving support to Black victims of crime.

The plan recognises the harmful effects of policing on Black Britain and aims to address low trust in the police among black people, as well as continued disproportionality in a range of police activity, including stop search.

In Gloucestershire, figures provided by the Constabulary and published on the Police UK website show that black people were four and a half times more likely to be stopped than white people between October 2021 and March 2022. The national rate is nine times more likely.

The national plan will be scrutinised by the Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board (ISOB), chaired by Barrister Abimbola Johnson, and a public survey is being carried out to seek the views of the public over the next six months. The plan will then be amended in response to the feedback and a final version produced.

Measures already underway in Gloucestershire Constabulary, as part of its ‘Better Together’ programme, are aiming to deliver the same commitments as the national plan. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services recognised these in its PEEL inspection report last year, saying the organisation ‘promotes an ethical and inclusive culture at all levels’.

Recent initiatives to address racial discrimination in the Constabulary includes the introduction of unconscious bias and bystander training, the establishment of a community legitimacy panel made up by members from ethnically diverse communities, an innovative reverse mentoring scheme and black history events giving colleagues the chance to hear the experiences of black people in our communities.

In October this year, the Constabulary will be hosting the National Black Police Association’s annual conference for the first time in Cheltenham.

Gloucestershire Constabulary Chief Constable Rod Hansen today said:

This plan is intended to help deliver the vision of a police service that is anti-racist and trusted by Black people, a vision I am determined Gloucestershire Constabulary will make a reality in this county.

I will be working with my Executive Board and managers to ensure that the Constabulary moves with pace and purpose to meet the commitments the plan contains.

Whilst we have made progress many feel that the pace of change has been slow. All who I have spoken to agree that there is much more to do. The NPCC Plan, coupled with our Better Together programme, gives us an opportunity to accelerate the necessary remaining changes.

The murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the murder of Sarah Everard in 2021 has triggered understandable outrage and brought police legitimacy more widely to the fore. I have spent much of my time since these tragic events considering where we are as an organisation.

I would like to thank everyone who contributed to these debates and I encourage more of you to give your thoughts over the next six months.

Mr Floyd’s death has raised the spectre of whether or not the police service remains institutionally racist. The Macpherson report following the murder of Stephen Lawrence describes this as:

The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racial stereotyping'

Note that this is not the same as being individually racist. Not trusting the police is not the same as not trusting individuals within in the police. Many people affected by inequality have stressed to me that it is in everyone’s interest for the police service to be successful and that they recognise courageous efforts to keep everyone safe from harm. More often than not, the inequality stems from the way society is structured with the police service being foisted into situations where they have no option but to act. Inequality is, without question, an unpalatable by-product of an unequal society. I doubt there is a single public sector organisation that can claim it is free from such disparity.

We mustn’t deny however that the lived experiences of members of minority communities, coupled with the data relating to some areas of policing activity such as stop and search, provide evidence of Institutional Racism as set out in Sir William Macpherson’s report.

Whether the Constabulary is institutionally racist or not is too important a question to be answered by us. Arguably those who are in receipt of our service are best placed to decide. We can however comment on what occurs inside the organisation. Here too, as in wider society, inequalities exist.

I am determined to do all that we can to improve the position for those we serve and who serve alongside us.

We will learn from history and improve our education and understanding of what it is like to be on the receiving end of policing – that is our way ahead. It will include of course targeting those who continue to believe that discriminatory behaviour is acceptable – it is not – internally or externally. Let us therefore focus on accelerating our own efforts to ensure we are not having the same conversations 10 years from now. The NPCC Race Action Plan provides the detailed map.

As Chief Constable, I believe unequivocally that committing ourselves to becoming an anti-discriminatory organisation is the right thing for us to do. This means not only acting in a non-discriminatory way, but addressing systemic inequalities, disadvantage and discrimination. It fits with our values, with our Corporate Strategy, and in how we want to police our county – with the full consent and support of all the communities who live in Gloucestershire.

I want us to be at peace with our approach to race and inclusion and to be proud that we belong to a Constabulary that acknowledges, in a spirit of humility, our previous mistakes and misjudgements – but which is committed from now on to become an unconditionally an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory organisation.

Additional Information:

For more information on stop and search in the county, including the stop and search independent scrutiny panel and the minutes from its meetings, please visit:

For more information on the use of force in the county, including the independent scrutiny panel and the minutes from its meetings, please visit:

For information on our ethnically diverse Community Legitimacy Panel and the minutes from its meetings please visit:

The Constabulary’s commitment to become an anti-discriminatory organisation can be found here:

Chris Jackson (Gloucestershire Constabulary, Police, Communications and Engagement)