Blog: Black History Month 2019

31st October 2019

I was delighted to speak at Race Council Cymru’s Black History Month event in Gwent on Monday 21 October.

The event, titled ‘Movers, Shakers and Legacy Makers’, was a celebration of multiculturalism in a Wales that is enriched with the history and diversity of all those that have called it home.

Sadly, political pressures and social and economic anxieties now provide us with challenges and uncertainty. This has changed many people’s sense of belonging and, at worst, it has increased tensions and divided communities, leading some people to commit acts of significant harm against others.

To challenge such attitudes and behaviours we must continue to promote and safeguard our principles of tolerance, inclusivity and equality.

As Police and Crime Commissioner, my role is to hold the Chief Constable to account for the way policing services are delivered in Gwent. Part of this is to ensure that anyone dealing with the police is treated equally, fairly and with respect.

Here in Gwent, our policing challenges vary dramatically across a relatively small geographic area, and our communities are changing rapidly. Understanding how matters such as hate crime and stop and search impact on our communities is critical to promoting confidence and cohesion.

Working with organisations such as Race Council Cymru is key to better understanding the issues faced by many of our black and ethnic minority residents, and to engage with them to help address any negative experiences they have.

We want people to feel confident that Gwent Police will support them when they make contact, that their report will be taken seriously, and that they will receive a good service.

The priorities set out in my office and Gwent Police’s Joint Strategic Equality Plan demonstrate our shared commitment to racial equality and diversity, not only within our communities but also our across our workforces. It is important that, as far as we are able, we ensure that our workforces visibly reflect the communities we serve so that people can be confident that we understand their needs and expectations as residents.

Gwent Police has a dedicated Positive Action Outreach Officer whose role it is to engage with and raise awareness of Gwent Police recruitment opportunities across our under-represented groups. The role enables the development of a long-term representative workforce strategy to improve our ability to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce, while supporting people to progress in their police careers.

Targeted positive action as part of recruitment campaigns has doubled visible BAME representation for police officers and staff.

Sadly, we still have specific gaps in representation that we are actively trying to attract, in particular black and Asian females.

Black History Month is an opportunity to come together to celebrate, to remember, to promote and to educate. In coming together in this way we celebrate our shared uniqueness and a collective Welsh identity with common values cultivated across the generations.

We remember that we are better together, and that in learning the lessons of the past, we will create a better future for those that follow.