Our continued commitment is to equality, diversity and inclusion, providing a policing service which meets the needs of all the public who use our service, as well as those that we employ and who volunteer for us.
West Mercia Police serves over 1.2 million people across a diverse region of 2,868 square miles, making it the fourth largest police area in England and Wales. We operate through five local policing areas - Herefordshire, North Worcestershire, South Worcestershire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. Our communities are evolving and changing, and my officers and staff ensure that they have a rich picture of the communities they serve, understanding and valuing difference.
Our Police and Crime Commissioner, John Campion, fully supports our equality and diversity work programme and the efforts of our officers and staff in engaging with the diverse communities across West Mercia, promoting equality and diversity and ensuring positive outcomes.
We are focusing on increasing the number of police officers and are striving to ensure we attract and retain staff from the most under-represented groups. An efficient representative and fully resourced workforce will deliver our policing priorities through increased police officer numbers, whose composition is reflective of the demographic makeup of our county.
Transparency and scrutiny: we will maximise the transparency of our organisations to ensure our activities can be scrutinised to enable explanation or give evidence to enable reform.
Developing our workforce: we will develop our staff to better understand diversity, equality and inclusion and the positive outcomes that will be delivered if we truly embed our response within our organisations. We will create an inclusive culture where people, no matter their background, feel confident to disclose their characteristics.
Understanding our workforce: we will better understand the composition of our workforce by ensuring we put in place systems which enable the collection, collation and analysis of workforce data across the nine strands of diversity. We will put in place effective strategies which enable formal and informal engagement with our staff and support networks to ensure we better understand how we can continue to develop an inclusive organisational culture which promotes and embeds diversity and equality.
Understanding our communities: we will better understand the composition of our communities by ensuring that we put in place systems which enable the collection, collation and analysis of community data and information across the nine strands of diversity.
Increasing confidence: we will deal effectively with all reported hate crimes and incidents, recognising that failure to do so has a detrimental impact on the confidence those communities have in the police. We will ensure that the code of ethics is embedded in all we do and is pivotal in our interactions with those we come into contact with.
Engagement: we will develop effective engagement strategies which enable interaction with all communities, fostering strong relationships that build trust and confidence.
Understanding the partnership landscape: we will work with partners to put in place systems which enable the collection, collation and analysis of data and information which identifies disparity in service delivery across the nine strands of diversity.
Tackling disparity: we will work with partners to implement whole system strategies to explain, where necessary reduce, and where possible eliminate disparity and enhance public service.
Joint service delivery: we will work with our partners to develop strategies which enable more effective public service provision across our communities.
Our equality governance
Our equality and diversity work is overseen by the Strategic Diversity Group, which is reported to by the Strategic Diversity Group, Diversity and Inclusion Board (Organisation) and Diversity and Inclusion Board (Communities and Partners).
Strategic Diversity Group
This group, chaired by West Mercia Police's Chief Constable Bangham, meets quarterly to review current equality priorities and objectives, as well as looking at national and regional issues to ensure we are better sighted on, and responding to, the emerging and evolving issues. The membership of the Strategic Group consists of chief officers, representatives from our Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs), trades union representatives and senior officers responsible for relevant strategies. There is also representation from the Police and Crime Commissioner's Office.
Diversity and Inclusion Board (Organisation)
This board was established to progress our workforce action plan and ensure that West Mercia Police is working to becoming a more diverse police force. Membership includes representatives from all our staff support networks, who have been heavily involved in our Positive Action activities.
The objectives of the board are:
To recruit, retain and develop a diverse workforce which reflects the communities we serve across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
To create a working environment that values difference and fosters an inclusive workplace culture where staff feel safe, supported and valued and can be confident that they will be treated fairly.
Diversity and Inclusion Board (Communities and Partners)
This group is chaired by Warwickshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith. Membership includes our IAGs, West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner representatives, police officers and staff who are driving our work to increase confidence, build trust and encourage participation.
The board's objective is to work in partnership with key stakeholders to increase confidence and satisfaction where communities feel safe, supported and are confident that they will be treated fairly and legitimately.
The focus of the group is to ensure that we have a comprehensive understanding of the diverse needs of our communities, identifying those who are most vulnerable, and tailoring our response to meet their needs.
Strategic Independent Advisory Group
This group represents our IAGs, which are made up of trusted individuals who are prepared to listen to, observe and comment on the activities and policies of West Mercia Police. As well as local IAGs in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, there are three protected characteristic groups that offer specialist advice and guidance to police on diverse issues and the effects on their communities:
Black and Minority Ethnic IAG
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender IAG.
Positive Action Group
To support the increase in Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation, we work closely with our Safer Neighbourhood Teams to engage with people who were looking at joining our police family, whether as officers, staff, Special Constables or PCSOs.
We are working closely with the College of Policing on their initiative BME Progression 2018, which aims to proactively work with police forces in developing and improving;
progression and specialisation
We are also developing action plans to ensure all our Positive Action initiatives encompass all under-represented groups, such as disability and sexual orientation. It is important that our workforce represents the communities we serve and that we have a deeper understanding of our communities.
Our independent advisory groups and staff support network members have made significant and valuable contribution to raising awareness with our newly recruited police officers of issues such as cultural awareness, race and religion, sexual orientation, disabilities and transgender matters.
Our legal duties
The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 is the UK's discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fairer and more equal society. The act protects people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation in work, education and when accessing services.
The Equality Act 2010 protects anyone who falls into a 'protected characteristic':
marriage and civil partnership
pregnancy and maternity
Public Sector Equality Duty
The Public Sector Equality Duty came into force across Great Britain on 5 April 2011. The aim of the Equality Duty is to embed equality considerations into the day to day work of public authorities, so that they tackle discrimination and inequality and contribute to making society fairer. It means that public bodies have to consider all individuals when carrying out their day-to-day work - in shaping policy, in delivering services and in relation to their own employees.
The Equality Duty requires the force to show that in the decision-making processes, in service delivery and in our employment practices, we have had due regard to the need to:
eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act
advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
These are often referred to as the three aims or arms of the general equality duty.
As a public body, we are required to regularly publish equality information which demonstrates our compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty. These annual reports contain information about:
An overview of our equality and diversity priorities
Examples of good practice working with our diverse communities
Information and data on key equality and diversity areas of work.
Please read our current and past Equality and Diversity Annual Reports.