One of the Association’s priorities is to champion the benefits of valuing difference and inclusivity in the service, particularly amongst our membership, and to work to bring about positive change in these areas.
A dedicated representative for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) issues sits on the Association’s National Executive Committee and this role is currently held by Det Supt Bhupinder (Bobbi) Rai, Head of CID at Thames Valley Police.
Since taking on the role last year, Bhupinder has become involved in several initiatives to support the Association’s objectives in five areas:
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Bhupinder took part in a recent workshop on good equality and diversity practice, which looked at both private and public sector progress on increasing proportion of BAME in leadership positions. It explored issues such as the importance of diversity on Executive and Trustee Boards as well as in management positions and the wider workforce, and on recruitment boards and panels.
A summary of the event is available here.
She is also involved in a programme for emerging executive-level leaders, for Superintending ranks and above. This will look at development of leadership skills and learning from other industries, recognising the levels of responsibility that are carried at Superintendent rank.
As one of the most senior Asian women in the service, Bhupinder is often approached to speak publically about her experience in policing. Her recent media activity includes an interview with the BBC Asian Network in English and in Punjabi, in which she focused on getting a message to parents that policing is a good career for BAME women, in particular as officers get to help people every day. Excerpts from the interview are available here (via Twitter).
She has also been interviewed by Womanthology online magazine and has worked with Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman on an item about policing of domestic abuse in minority communities and how a diverse workforce helps to bring trust, confidence and cultural understanding.
Bhupinder represents the Association on the NPCC’s Race, Religion and Belief Board, chaired by Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher. This Advisory Board, which also has MPs and representatives from IAGs, support groups and other staff associations, is specifically looking at workforce representation.
“My objectives are to ensure BAME issues around recruitment, retention and representation stay on the radar, and to emulate what some of the other ‘difference’ strands have been able to do in developing a coherent and cohesive network and strategy.
“It is so important to have a diverse workforce. We have a duty to make sure that we are a service for all communities, and that every community feels we will be there for them if they need us. We police by consent and with communities, and we’re far more likely to be successful in tackling crime if we have the support and trust of all communities.
“But lots of factors mean policing is in danger of becoming less attractive as a career, and there are many other professions competing with us for good people.
“Cuts and constraints mean less chance of progression, there is the constant pressure and workload, and of course the public scrutiny. It’s only worth it if you think you’re going to be successful – whether success is making a difference to someone’s life, progressing to a higher rank, or simply being really happy in your job.
“If the colour of your skin alone makes that success less likely then you may look at something else.
“Policing is seeing a recruitment drive at the moment and I want to ensure we are getting good quality people from lots of different backgrounds, keeping the momentum going and making sure there are as few barriers to people from BAME communities joining as possible.”
As well as the work by Bhupinder and the NEC representatives for LGBT and gender, the Association has worked with the College of Policing to provide training this year for a quarter of its membership in coaching and mentoring skills, to use specifically with colleagues from under-represented groups to help them develop and progress.
Valuing difference and inclusion is the subject of a Police Superintendents’ Association special focus day on May 21. ‘Difference, Determination and Duty’ will hear from a range of expert speakers and aims to broaden thinking about difference, why it matters in the workplace, and ways to make the service more inclusive. Follow #differencematters on Twitter to join in the discussion.