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President's blog following UK protests

PSA President Paul Griffiths has published a blog following ‘Black Lives Matters’ protests held around the UK:

“The appalling death of George Floyd in America has served as a catalyst for bringing the subject of inequality to the forefront of public discussion, in the most emotive and passionate of ways.

Policing has found itself under the spotlight once more as it navigates the huge challenges of a deadly virus, economic challenges, a wave of public discontent and a crucial societal debate.

I want to be absolutely clear that there is no place for racism, bias or discrimination within our society.  Our Service is passionate about this and shares a continued drive for fairness and equality.

I also want to be honest about the fact that we haven’t always got this right.  There is so much we have achieved in our work on valuing difference, but still so much more to be done until we can say that disproportionality does not exist in our work or our workforce. 

We know people want to make their voices heard and we absolutely hear them. The right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, which UK police uphold and facilitate.

Officers all over the country therefore found themselves in difficult positions this weekend, policing protests which are unlawful at this particular moment in our history, as they brought together huge numbers of people, potentially spreading a virus we are trying so hard to contain. They worked in the most unique of situations, being as vulnerable to the virus as anyone else, with no option to stay away when their responsibility and duty is to protect others. 

It is totally unacceptable for police officers to be attacked for simply doing their job in protecting the public and we simply cannot condone the examples of violence and aggression we saw in certain areas. These are highly trained officers who are deeply accountable to the public they serve and showed incredible professionalism, restraint and tolerance, despite the violence and aggression some of them faced.

The fact that almost every person protesting over the weekend did so with no desire to incite violence or to provoke aggression, standing alongside officers who were there to protect them, is reflective once again of the strong relationship between police and the public in the UK.  This is something we are proud of; but will never be complacent over.

No one person can ‘solve’ the fundamental deeper socials issues within our society, but we all have a role to play in valuing difference and promoting inclusive communities, in line with the ethos and values of our country.  Now – we need calm, considered debate on how to make further progress and I know that policing will rightly place itself at the heart of this conversation.”