‘We fell short of the high standards we pride ourselves on’ - chief constable
- Credit: Rachel Edge
In his latest column, Suffolk chief constable Steve Jupp reacts to a video showing officers questioning two black people in Ipswich - and how his force is promoting equality and diversity in the wake of the death of George Floyd in the US.
The death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests have forced us all to reflect on what more we can do to eliminate the scourge of racism from our society.
Some of the conversations we are having as a nation are uncomfortable truths we may not have heard expressed so powerfully if what happened on May 25 in Minneapolis had not occurred.
Nevertheless, it is crucial we listen and understand what is being said if we are to address the issues being raised.
Although I cannot promise Suffolk Constabulary will always get everything right, I can promise we will strive to do everything we can in our efforts to do so. It is also important when we make a mistake that we acknowledge it.
No doubt many of you are aware of issues relating to a video on social media where we fell short of the high standards we pride ourselves on, and for which we apologised.
As your chief constable I, along with my fellow senior officers, am committed to upholding not only the law, but also the values of equality, decency, diversity, respect, and fairness.
These are also the values I recognise in our officers, staff and volunteers as they go about their work within our organisation and while out serving communities across Suffolk.
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There is one further value too – humility. I sincerely hope a mistake officers made through ill-chosen words and the response to a particular situation will not define who we are in people’s minds.
More than 30 years ago I joined the police to protect and serve. A lot of have things have changed since then, but the reason I joined and the pride I have in being a police officer has not.
We very much want to be an organisation that is reflective of our communities. Diversity and inclusivity are a crucial part of that.
We are currently recruiting officers and direct entry level detectives. I would encourage anyone from a black and minority ethnic background to consider a career in policing so we can achieve that diversity and inclusivity in greater numbers.
I know there was concern over how social distancing could be maintained at the Black Lives Matter protest in Christchurch Park on June 6.
I would like to thank the organisers who worked closely with us to ensure that this was a safe event for all those who participated and, despite the large turnout, people continued to try to remain safe by staying two metres apart.
It was great to receive feedback from community groups thanking us for the way this event was policed.
This joined-up approach typifies the efforts the vast majority have made across Suffolk since the outbreak of Covid-19 led to restrictions to all our lives being brought in during March.
Along with other emergency services, the NHS, and public sector leaders, I would once again like to express my gratitude to everyone who has made, and is continuing to make, sacrifices to abide by the government’s instructions.
We encourage you to stick to what you are being asked to do so you can keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible.
Last week was National Volunteers Week. I would like to pay tribute to all those who dedicate their free time as either Special Constables, Cadets or Volunteers to help keep our county safe.
Last weekend alone, for example, members of the Special Constabulary worked 300 hours over 41 duties. Not only would I like to thank the individuals who volunteer, but also the number of employers who through this current crisis have supported their staff and allowed them to work for us.
In my article this month, I have referenced how important values are to us as a constabulary and in the broader context of our county.
Another great example of this has been the support provided to us by Farlingaye High School and their headteacher, Dr Andy Sievewright, who has allowed us to continue student officer training in the sixth form college whilst not being used by his pupils.
It was a welcome return for Sergeant Jon Driver, who helped to facilitate this - as he was once a student himself at Farlingaye.
Lastly, could I please draw your attention to the initiative that has just been launched by the Suffolk Resilience Forum which is “Suffolk Says Thanks”.
This is a way to recognise the small acts of kindness taking place across the county in response to the corona virus pandemic.
During the last few months, we have come together as a county to support each other, protect the vulnerable and try to minimise the impact this virus has had on all our lives.
This initiative will go a long way to recognising so many acts of kindness.