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Avon and Somerset Police boosts inclusive approach with new learning programme

police, HQ and Bristol 7th Oct 2020

Avon and Somerset Police are working with respected community partners to develop and deliver a new learning programme for frontline staff and officers centred on sharing different ‘lived experiences’.

Led by Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI), the training aims to increase understanding and empathy across the organisation leading to better recognition, respect and valuing of difference. SARI will design, manage and deliver the course in partnership with four community-led, expert inclusion organisations – WECIL (West of England Centre for Inclusive Living), Diversity Trust, Babbasa and Empova Consulting.

Each partner brings a wealth of lived experience as well as professional knowledge of inclusivity and difference, which will form the basis of the course. Police officers and staff who progress from the programme will benefit from enhanced internal cultural sensitivity, develop more inclusive patterns of thinking and improve interpersonal skills.

Director of People and Organisational Development at Avon and Somerset Police, Louise Hutchison said: “We’re proud to serve a large and diverse area across Avon and Somerset and we recognise the responsibility we have to ensure our staff and officers have the knowledge and skills to meet the varied needs of our communities.

“We have come a long way in the last couple of years in improving the diversity and inclusivity of our police force. But we still have a long way to go. In order to achieve this we need to provide our staff and officers with the tools to be able to see the world through someone else’s eyes – whether that’s through their interactions with colleagues or when connecting with our communities.”

Alex Raikes MBE, DL, Strategic Director of SARI said, “This programme brings together the many years’ experience we have gained via our frontline work with communities and service users from equalities communities. Our service user voices have been at the forefront in the creation of these learning interventions that are so much more than one off training. Our aim is to inspire police officers and staff to be fundamentally part of the change we all want to see. We want them to embed equality and diversity in everything they do and not see it as something separate from every day working practice. Ultimately, this is all about police officers and staff having the confidence and skills to serve and protect our diverse communities with respect and human rights right at the centre. We are very excited to be collaborating on this innovative and dynamic initiative which we aim to make a blueprint for maximising cultural competency in policing”.

The learning programme will be rolled out from September 2021 until March 2022 and will focus on areas of differences including; generational difference (age), disabilities, gender, religion and belief, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, poverty and socio-economic status alongside an understanding of intersectionality.

This new learning programme sits alongside progressive initiatives already in place at Avon and Somerset Police to advance inclusion and diversity, as supported by the big three ideas, which were established in 2019:
• Achieving National Equality Standard (NES) Accreditation in April 2020
• Recruitment of the Diverse Workforce Outreach team in September 2019
• Rolling out ‘Cultural Intelligence for Inclusive Leaders’ to all Inspector and police staff second line managers and above from 2019 into 2021. This will continue throughout 2021 for Sergeants and police staff first line managers.