.@scotgov launches consultation to improve police relations with ethnic minorities

Representatives from various advocacy groups attend meeting to advise government on police strategy 

THE Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), has held a meeting on Glasgow policing priorities in cooperation with the Scottish Government, inviting minority ethnic community groups and individuals.

The meeting was called to consult for a new policy on what Scotland’s police service should prioritise and to see if the current strategic police priorities reflect the needs, experiences and priorities of minority ethnic people in Scotland.

Dan Couldrigde, a representative from the Scottish Government was present and taking proposals about retraining on cultural issues, burden of suspicion, poor response times and excessive use of force.

 "The question is, do the police understand that poor level service, late response times, poor recording of incidents and intimating probed questions without probable cause are just as racist as name calling?" Carol Young

Carol Young, senior policy officer at CRER, who chaired the meeting, said: "The question, is do the police understand that poor level service, late response times, poor recording of incidents and intimating probed questions without probable cause are just as racist as name calling?"

Formerly known as Glasgow Anti Racist Alliance (GARA), CRER is an organisation focused on helping to advocate for communities against legal and social forms of racial discrimination and harassment and promote racial justice across wider Scotland. 

In the meeting, African, Sikh and Arab individuals commented on their interactions with the police and how they felt the situation and relations could be improved. 

It also came on the same day as a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland (EHRC) published findings into the sociopolitical and legal conditions of ethnic minorities in Scotland.

"It's clear that there is an issue of trust and it's important that we've had this meeting to listen and see what impact we can have on the situation." Dan Couldridge 

Mulugeta, consultant with Waverley Care, which works with black and Arab communities across Glasgow, stated: "I think the Scottish Government has made some good commitments, clearly there is an effort but more needs to be done - when you think of recruitment of BME officers but also in terms of education about reform and training needs to involve our communities."

Sikh campaigners commented on incidents where Sikh men had been dragged off buses either in altercations because of what they were wearing or at times when their ritual dress had been considered threatening by police.

Couldrigde said: "It's clear that there is an issue of trust and it's important that we've had this meeting to listen and see what impact we can have on the situation." 

The meeting and consultation comes in the context of recent protests all across the UK, including Glasgow last weekend organised by Black Lives Matter, an organisation dedicated to combating police brutality against ethnic minority groups. 

"Eleven individuals have died in police custody since Police Scotland was formed in 2013." Runnymede Trust

Police relations with communities have come under the spotlight in recent years due to high-profile cases, including that of Fife man Sheku Bayoh, who died in police custody.

Campaigners reacted to the death of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson in England by claiming people were "off the scale more likely" to be shot by a taser if they were black.

The death of the 48-year-old black ex-Aston Villa striker outside his parent’s house in Telford, Shropshire, in the early hours of Monday morning, has focused the minds of campaigners in the UK as a whole.

This year, Brian Docherty, president of the Scottish Police Federation, the body representing rank-and-file police officers called for tasers to be kept in every patrol car following a spate of recent attacks and "wider deployment of tasers" in a bid to protect staff.

"In terms of education about reform and training needs to involve our communities." Mulugeta

Moreover, the controversial practice of non‐statutory stop and search of adults and children has been banned by the Scottish Government and is due to be replaced with a new statutory code of practice.

Eleven individuals have died in police custody since Police Scotland was formed in 2013, according to research by the Runnymede Trust.

In the high‐profile case of Sheku Bayoh, a Scottish man originally from Sierra Leone who was restrained and died in police custody, one of the principal police officers involved allegedly has a history of violence and racism. There were significant delays from the officers involved in providing essential information to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, which created difficulty in determining the cause of death.

Campaigners have called for a thorough independent investigation into Sheku Bayoh’s death. 

Picture Courtesy Dave Conner

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.