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THE CHAIR ANSWERS


A brighter future for


BAME police Paul Odle Chairs the Police Federation of England and Wales’ Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and BAME Belief Group. He writes:


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AG: What has this year been like for you? JA: It’s been a tough two years since being elected. Last year we had the cyber-attacks against the organisation which was debilitating and caused me some genuine sleepless nights. Just as we started moving on from that and were hit by the pandemic which has completely turned policing upside down. Everything that I wanted to do, whether it be getting out on patrol with ofcers or fighting some of the things that I’m passionate about has had to go on the backburner. I’ve also had personal tragedy in my life this year. I lost my mum who I was very close to. Coming to terms with that loss and trying to manage a high-pressure job has been tough. But I know 2020 been a challenge for all of us. I don’t mind admitting that I’m looking forward to putting the year behind us, professionally and personally.


AG: What are your hopes for the members in 2021? JA: I want whatever vaccine system is put in place to bring us back to a sense of normality, whatever that normality may look like. That’s important for all of us — this past year has taken its toll on us all, in one way or another. Policing will evolve and we will always have crises to deal with, it’s what we do. I’m looking forward to the Police Powers and Protections Bill becoming law. This is a huge


win for the Federation as it will bring in protection for police drivers, increased sentences for those who assault us, it will enshrine a police covenant into law and allow Specials to join the Federation – all of things that we have been campaigning for. I want more of a focus on the mental and physical wellbeing of colleagues and for the NPCC Ofcer Safety review to deliver tangible benefits. I want the criminal justice service to reflect the seriousness of assaults on colleagues and for the pension remedy to be fair and consistent.


AG: Finally, what is your message to local Fed reps? JA: Our Fed reps are the backbone of the organisation. They are the ones who are working directly with members every single day and they will always have my backing. I would say to those reps: “Don’t underestimate the positive diference you’re making when you’re helping our members”, that could be for anything; working through a flexible working application, a last minute change to their shifts, helping them through a misconduct or a grievance – it matters hugely. I get more messages from people who are thankful and appreciative of the support the Fed are giving that than not. So have faith that the Federation is doing the best it can and will always fight for its members.


Equality has always been at the forefront of our minds here at the Federation and we are fully committed to the eradication of all forms of discrimination. We established the Black, Asian, Minority


Ethnic and BAME Belief Group with the aim of creating a culturally aware and welcoming police service and Federation. Only 7.5 per cent of police ofcers are from a BAME background, compared to 14 per cent of the population. And Britain has also only had one black chief constable, Michael Fuller QPM, and he left the force 10 years ago. We have also been taking a long hard look


at the bigger picture behind recruitment issues and feeding into research led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council around issues including ‘Stop & Search’. Change is happening and the situation is better than when I started out as a coordinator for the Black Police Association 26 years ago. The proportion of black, Asian and ethnic minority ofcers and staf is at the highest ever level – but we still have a long way to go.


We are working towards increasing the


representation of BAME and BAME belief candidates at the 2021 Police Federation elections and have set up a mentoring scheme to support ofcers who wish to become reps. Since I became a Fed rep in 2018, I’ve been able to bring my experience and perspective to the table and I would recommend becoming a rep any day of the week. Not only can you support your colleagues – it’s an investment in developing further skills and greater knowledge.


DECEMBER 2020 | POLICE | 19


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