Posted: Friday 25th January 2019
This week I was fortunate enough to attend Bristol City Council’s Stepping Up Graduation. The programme is aimed at improving the representation of BAME people, disabled people and women in senior leadership roles within Bristol and the wider region. This is a truly worthy programme that empowers talented individuals, regardless of their backgrounds, to reach their fullest potential and pursue their aspirations to grow and develop in their careers. The programme is helping to create inclusive leadership that better represents the cities diversity and the potential to be unlocked from becoming a more inclusive workforce. This is a shared aspiration I also have for policing. I’ve been vocal since I was re-elected that Avon and Somerset Constabulary needs to better reflective the communities it serves. Currently the police’s BAME representation for officers and staff is at 2.9%. With a BAME population across Avon and Somerset of 7% and a population in Bristol of 16% we are far from where we need to be. Avon and Somerset is a diverse and vibrant place to live and work, and it is fundamental that we understand the different perspectives and experiences that exist to promote inclusivity in our communities. As individuals, I believe our differences should be celebrated. It is our uniqueness that makes each and every one of us who we are. Programmes like Stepping Up, which included members of police staff in the graduation, are part of the solution. It also demonstrates how we are coming together as public sector organisations to face the same challenges. It was a real pleasure to share this proud moment with the graduates and their families, and I’m sure Stepping Up will continue to make a big impact for both the people on the scheme and ultimately our public sector organisations and businesses for years to come.
On Tuesday I attended what’s believed to be the country’s first Mosque Independent Advisory Group (IAG) at Greenbank Mosque in Bristol. IAGs are a genuine partnership between the police and local people one which allows constructive challenge to the police and when necessary support. I am truly excited about the new Mosque IAG, the opportunities it presents for our communities and the potential it unlocks. Now, more than ever, policing needs meaningful engagement. By better understanding our diverse communities, we can continue to build good relationships between the police and local people to make our communities a safe place to live and work. Future Mosque IAGS will offer the chance to visit the many places of worship across Bristol and I am particularly looking forward to hearing from women in the community as part of the Sisters Mosque IAG coming soon.
You may have heard about the threatening behaviour and abuse towards Bristol’s Mayor Marvin Rees and Deputy Mayor Asher Craig. This is completely unacceptable. Free speech is an integral part of our society but public figures should feel confident to carry out their duties without the threat of being intimated, harassed or targeted by those who disagree with them. As I said in my last column we’re facing an increasingly heated political climate which is having broad consequences with an increase in aggression. We are stronger together and we need to stand united through these charged times. In the profound words of Jo Cox ‘we have more in common than things which divide us’ and it’s a crucial reminder to us all.