Our inclusive culture
Avon and Somerset Police are committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Our mission is to serve our communities. The most effective way we can do this is if the people who work for us are representative of our communities.
We are working hard to increase diversity and inclusion where communities are currently under-represented. This includes:
- those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities
- people of all ages, abilities, neurodiversity, faiths, religions, gender, LGBT+ communities
- those from other disadvantaged backgrounds or marginalised backgrounds
We want to encourage people of diverse backgrounds, experience and beliefs, who share our value of caring and want to make a difference in the community, to work for us.
Be the Difference
Our commitment to increasing diversity
We are on a journey to become the most inclusive police force in the country. Below are the steps we are taking, and will continue to take, to help us realise our ambition:
We have employed a team of seven Outreach Workers whose role is to change and challenge our recruitment processes. Their work includes identifying and breaking down barriers that may be preventing people from under-represented communities from joining the police service.
They work to improve the perception of policing as a career within minority groups and to increase the diversity of applicants and the resulting talent pool.
Not only do they encourage people to apply for jobs within Avon and Somerset Police, but they support and mentor them through the application and training process, in order to increase the prospects of new employees staying with the service once they have joined.
Our Outreach Workers represent many of the different communities in Avon and Somerset. Eneyi Pemu, who joined the team in 2019 said: “I have always believed that if you want to change the narrative, you have to do something about it, not just complain. I want to bring a way of thinking, a way of understanding that isn’t usually represented in the police community.
“This was a courageous step for the police to take and I was all too happy to be involved with guiding this learning curve, not just to change perspectives, but to help shape the kind of environment I want my son and his children’s children to thrive in.”
National Equality Standard (NES) accreditation
In April 2020, Avon and Somerset Police became the first police force in the UK to achieve the accreditation for the National Equality Standard (NES).
Supported by the Home Office, Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the national standard sets clear equality, diversity and inclusion criteria against which companies are independently assessed.
The thorough process, which took just over a year to complete, involved the assessment of seven key areas within the organisation:
- Core components
- Review and measurement
We have now been given full accreditation for the next three years and will continue to work through the recommendations from NES to improve each year.
Working with independent critical partners
Independent Advisory Groups
Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs) are panels of ordinary citizens, representative of their area and the different communities who make up that population, who act as critical partners, advising us on a range of issues and scrutinising particular significant or high profile incidents. Each IAG has an independent chair.
Over recent years we have reinvigorated this approach, so as well as an IAG for each of our six (check) Local Policing Areas, and now have a number of specific interest IAGs, focusing on issues which directly affect certain communities.
For example in Bristol, we have the Mosque Community IAG with representation from 22 local faith groups, as well as a Woman’s IAG which explores gender based crime and exploitation. We are in the process of establishing an LGBTQ+ IAG and will be returning to our Young People’s Voice sessions once the pandemic has ended.
Scrutiny of police powers and disproportionality
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) recruits and governs a panel of people from a diverse range of backgrounds living in Avon and Somerset, who meet quarterly to scrutinise the use of police powers, particularly those which can be considered to be used disproportionately, including stop and search and Taser use.
The panel, who are all volunteers, examine officers’ Body Worn Video (BWV) and assess whether our powers have been used fairly, legally and proportionately. They produce a report which is submitted to the Police and Crime Commissioner for oversight, who then works with the police to ensure any learning is fed back to the relevant teams, training requirements are identified and complaints or commendations are raised.
The panel’s aim is to increase transparency and public knowledge about the safeguards and complexity in relation to the use of police powers.
Find out more about the Scrutiny of Police Powers Panel, or to apply to be part of the panel on the OPCC’s website.
Cultural Intelligence (CQ) and Inclusive Leadership training
We are embedding diversity and inclusion throughout Avon and Somerset Police through learning. Since July 2019, nearly 150 of our officers and staff have been trained in Cultural Intelligence (CQ) and Inclusive Leadership. Many of those who have received the training are leaders within the organisation.
Feedback from the workshops suggested that participants found the programme:
- Developed their confidence in engaging in diverse cultural contexts.
- Developed their understanding of their own cultural value preferences, biases, and how these impacted on the way they engaged with difference.
- Enhanced their inclusive leadership skills and developed their cultural intelligence (CQ).
The next phase of the training will take place in Autumn 2020 and will include officers and staff working in culturally diverse areas such as East Bristol.
BAME Leadership Programme
This positive action leadership programme is aimed at sergeants and inspectors from ethnic minority backgrounds and supports and encourages them to go for promotion.
The highest rank currently held by officers from an ethnic minority background within our force is inspector, of which we have five. The highest rank ever reached by someone from this background within our force was Chief Inspector, achieved by Norman Pascal who retired in 2017.
This leadership programme, along with other mentoring schemes and support networks, aims to support officers from diverse backgrounds to reach their full potential and become leaders. The next BAME Leadership Programme will begin in Autumn 2020.
Staff and officer support groups
Within Avon and Somerset Police we have a community of active and supportive groups, networks and associations available for staff and officers to join. These groups enable officers and staff to seek support, guidance, mentoring and much more from colleagues who have a lived or shared experience to their own. Our groups include:
- Black Police Association (BPA)
- LGBT+ Liaison Team
- Disabled Police Association (DPA)
- National Police Autism Association
- Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Women’s Network
- Christian Police Association (CPA)
- Police Pagan Association
- Police Federation
ENEI Award for Neurodiversity
In July 2020, we won an ENEI (Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion) award for Neurodiversity. This was in recognition for a range of initiatives we have developed that recognise the different needs of neurodiverse people, both who work for us and those who we come into contact with.
The award recognises our collaboration with the Centre for Applied Autism Research at the University of Bath and Bristol Autism Spectrum Service that has enabled us to create a training package to give our staff a better understanding of autism. Through this we have seen an increase in the number of people who are happy to disclose a neurodiverse condition for the first time in our staff survey.
Finally the award recognises our work in trying to understand how and why autistic people are over-represented in the criminal justice system and are seven times more likely to come into contact with the police. The Autism Cells Project has made changes to the physical custody environment, provides enhanced training for custody staff and aims to make custody a less stressful experience for autistic detainees.
Thinking of joining us?
If you have thought about a career in the police, but are unsure what steps to take, our Representative Workforce Team can help.
We are proud to be…
- A Stonewall Diversity Champion, ensuring our work environment is inclusive and ensuring all LGBT+ colleagues and staff are accepted without exception in the workplace.
- Part of the Disability Confident employer scheme – we have been assessed as a Disability Confident Leader, challenging, changing and leading attitudes towards Disability and Neurodiversity, to remove barriers for disabled people in our organisation, to ensure provision of opportunities to fulfil individual potential and realise aspirations.
- Fully certified by the National Equality Standard (NES) and to have achieved the NES compliant accreditation for best practice in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in the workplace.