To mark LGBT History Month, the APCC lead for Equalities, David Munro PCC, sets out what Police and Crime Commissioners are doing to help reduce inequality and promote safety amongst our diverse communities.
Celebrating our differences in policing is an area very close to my heart so I was delighted to be recently appointed as the national PCC lead for Equalities, Diversity and Human Rights (EDHR). This portfolio covers a range of issues including officer and staff diversity and hate crime. I therefore want to be the champion for these issues not just in Surrey but for PCCs across the country.
Taking on this role has given me a huge sense of pride and purpose and I believe we must do our part in policing to reduce inequality and promote safety amongst our diverse communities.
With this in mind, February has particular importance for me in recognising Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) History Month. This is an annual event but this year in particular marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales. You can find out more here: http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/
Society has come a long way in terms of acceptance and understanding of the LGBT community, yet there is still some way to go. In today’s day and age, no one should ever have to feel frightened or embarrassed to fully commit to who they are yet LGBT groups often still sadly experience prejudicial behaviour in their everyday lives.
We know that hate crimes are currently under-reported and policing needs to do more to encourage victims to feel safe to come forward. We must combat all hate crimes head on, be it on the grounds of sexuality, gender, race or religion. I am keen to work with my fellow PCCs across the country to expand support networks and find other ways that our diverse communities can feel safe and included.
Part of this is encouraging people from these communities to pursue a career in policing – in order to achieve this we must work at presenting a clear demonstration of our commitment to inclusivity within the police service.
I was encouraged to see a total of 18 police forces recognised in this year’s Stonewall Workplace Equality Index which was announced last month. The index looks at LGBT+ representation across the workplace and recognises those organisations demonstrating inclusivity.
Six of those Forces made it into the Top 100 and it would be fantastic to see even more added to the Index next year. We will look at what distinguishes those top employers and share that best practice with colleagues.
My deputy for the EDHR portfolio is Hardyal Dhindsa, the PCC for Derbyshire. Hardyal has been working proactively to promote LGBT issues in Derbyshire, seeking a representative workforce and personally supporting the LGBT networks in the community. We will be inviting discussions with the rest of our PCC colleagues to explore ways we can tackle some of these issues together.