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WOMENS WORDS

Staffordshire Police: Stonewalled

By Claire Loneragan


As a result of local forces helping with enquiries, WRN were able to publish “State Sanctioned Sexual Assault” revealing that almost every force in the land had implemented the NPCC direction to allow officers to self-identify their sex for the purpose of searching. Staffordshire Police intended to implement this policy too and probably have by now.


Hot on its heels comes the Police SEEN (Sex Equality and Equity Network), which might just set a few blue lights flashing in HR departments. It is sorely needed. The extent to which the current colour preference is for rainbows or baby pink and blue stripes is remarkable.

Staffordshire Police are probably no worse than others, in truth.


They’ve been Stonewalled, of course. FOIs reveal that Staffordshire have been fully paid-up members since at least 2014 (when Stonewall was still working to secure equal rights for LGB people) and planned to renew in 2022. The cost for this has not been huge – around £2,500 per year – but it’s not nothing.


Stonewall’s influence has also led to far larger sums being spaffed on luxury projects designed to do far more for the careers of those delivering them than for the local population who would likely prefer to have their burglaries investigated and see a reduction in violent crime.


I give you exhibit A – the Staffordshire Police Inclusive Language Guidance. Twelve pages of dos and don’ts for talking to people in the baffling new language we’re all supposed to use to be “respectful” and “inclusive”.


Very loosely organised around approximations of the Equality Act’s protected characteristics it makes some useful suggestions, but the four pages devoted to sex, gender and sexuality could do with improvement. I’m sorry but sex is not a “label” assigned at birth, knowing that women are female does not “erase gender non-conforming people”, and the section entitled “Intersex” is all kinds of wrong. More troublingly, although the legal definition of a child is a person under the age of 18, in this language guide children are aged 4 to 12 years.


Why not share your thoughts with positive.action@Staffordshire.police.uk, I’m sure they’d welcome feedback.


Exhibit B: the careers page for Staffs Police. It has a strong focus on Diversity & Inclusion – as many organisations do – with networks for staff with disabilities and for women, a Multi-Cultural Association and the mandatory LGBT+ support network. And to keep all this ticking along Staffordshire Police have a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Dave Fynn (he/him), co-chair of the Staffs LGBT Network and regional co-chair for the National LGBT Network.


Now, I know what you’re thinking. But Dave is very keen to represent women, disabled people, people of faith, other ethnic groups, the LGBTQ+ community and Straight CIS gendered allies. (That language guide turned out to be more useful than I expected). And anyway, he/him has flags.



Staffs Police must surely be at the top of their game. They’ve been paying a lot of attention to EDI for the past decade and, as we all know, that’s how you build an effective workforce.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have helped with their 2022 Police Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy (PEEL) programme rating. They were found to be “inadequate” – the lowest rating there is.


Chief Constable Chris Noble accepted the finding even though, as he was keen to point out, “the most recent national crime data shows that Staffordshire Police remains one of the safest places in the country, with one of the lowest levels of crime recorded out of all 43 forces”.

(Yes, I know. I’m assuming he meant the bits of Staffordshire outside local nicks have low levels of crime. But who knows?)


Anyway, he’s sorted that out and now recorded crime in Staffordshire is significantly higher than pre-pandemic with worrying increases in knife crime and sexual offences due to “the improved speed of processes”. They’re at 16th in the list of police forces with the highest violent crimes which puts them in the top third. That’s progress.


So why are Staffordshire putting so much effort into Diversity & Inclusion?


It’s awful to be the target of a crime, and we know that some people are targeted specifically for their race, their religion or because of homophobia. (Even more are targeted for their sex although the police do not record those as hate crimes).


Do the numbers suggest this focus is warranted?


Hardly.


FOIs reveal that the number of hate-crimes – crimes that have an aggravating element of targeting a person because of a monitored characteristic (but not for being a woman) – averages around 150 a month in Staffordshire. Whereas violent crimes in Staffordshire average around 15,000 a month. Even if all the “hate crimes” were violent (they aren’t) they would comprise only around 1% of the total.


What’s more, the number of violent crimes appears to have more than doubled over the last decade in direct correlation with the increased EDI focus.


We don’t know if the increase in violent crime would be even worse without the EDI focus. Staffordshire Police certainly don’t know. But evidence suggests that the people of Staffordshire would prefer the money and the focus to be elsewhere.



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