PCSOs key to improving race relations
Weeks after the Met was engulfed in scandalous allegations of racism, Onthebeat101 brings to light the vital role that PCSOs play in improving race relations.
11% of PCSOs from an ethnic minority background
PSCO diversity builds confidence in the service
Work of PCSOs not being recognised
The Met was thrown into turmoil as allegations of racism surfaced earlier this month. A recording revealed a Police Constable subjecting a man to series of racist insults, including telling him: “The problem with you is you will always be a nigger.”
PCSOs reduce racism in the police
But now ACPO, the National Black Police Association (NBPA) and the Met’s own Black Police Association (Met BPA) have told Onthebeat101 of the crucial role PCSOs play in reducing racism in the police force and building better race relations with the community.
PCSOs most ethnically diverse part of police workforce
The PCSO force is far more ethnically diverse than the rest of the police force. 11% of PCSOs are from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds , compared to 4.8% overall in the police service.
This means that PCSOs are more representative of the wider community, and more representative of the communities they police. ACPO head of Local Policing and Partnerships, Chief Constable Simon Cole, told Onthebeat101: “PCSOs are the most diverse section of the police workforce”, and explained that “This diversity helps the service to build confidence in local communities.”
Good PCSOs improve race relations, say Met BPA
The Met Black Police Association agrees. John Holmes-Yarde, executive at the Met BPA told us PCSOs have a “positive effect in terms of diversity”, and said: “Good community support officers can actually improve race relations.”
“People are happy to see BME [Black and Minority Ethnic] officers out there, officers they can actually relate to.”
“If you have good community support officers that integrate with the community, it can actually improve the relations between the police and the community.”
PCSO work not being recognised
Mr Holmes-Yarde added that PCSOs are “playing a very important role in building bridges between police service and the communities.”
But he said, “PCSOs aren’t getting the recognition they deserve.”
Community Support Officers “have a special job” said Mr Holmes-Yarde, because ‘most of the time they are the first people that come into contact with the public, and first impressions usually count’.
Mr Holmes-Yarde went on to stress the need for ethnic minority role models. With a much higher proportion of BME officers, PCSOs are well-placed to play a leading role in this. Ethnic minority PCSOs can become role models
Mr Holmes-Yarde said: “There is a need for more BME officers…The more BME officers there are, the more BME role models we’d have.”
Police service should reflect society it polices
The National Black Police Association Police (NPBA) also emphasized that the force has to reflect society it polices. A spokesperson told Onthebeat101: “We need to have officers of same backgrounds as the people in the areas in which they police.”
The Met BPA executive stressed that this was essential, saying the police should “reflect the diverse society we live in – especially in places like London which is very diverse.”
PCSOs make service more diverse
But as well as improving race relations between the police and the community, PCSOs are also helping make the service more diverse.
With many PCSOs going on to become police officers, the number of black and minority ethnic officers in police ranks is increasing.
ACPO Chief Constable Simon Cole recounted that “because some PCSOs go on to become regular constables, this can increase overall diversity within the service.”
PCSOs are the police of the future
Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe agrees. “PCSOs are the police of the future” he told us, adding that “PCSOs are a more diverse group than police officers – there are more from ethnic backgrounds, more women and therefore more representative of London.”
The NPBA noted that recruiting from the PCSO ranks was a positive step for diversity since the PCSO pool has more BME individuals to choose from.
But they said, “It’s a good thing to get BME officers into the force full stop”, irrespective of where they come from.
More training not needed
He also claimed that the police don’t need any more training on race relations. “There’s more than enough education” in the police, he stated.
You can find out how the Met racism allegations unfolded, read Onthebeat101’s Roundup.
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