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Chair's Blog (Number 2: 2017)

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 09:45

It’s February already and significantly for us and the LGB and T community it marks LGBT History Month. We will be hosting our annual LGBT History Month Quiz night on 24th February with our friends and partners including BTP LINK, LEAP Sports and LGBT Youth Scotland. For more information contact our Events Secretary Frazer Robertson (events@gpascotland.com). The venue is ARTA, Albion Street, Glasgow starting at 7pm. 

Also, as this years theme for LGBT History Month is ‘LGBT Heritage’ we shall be posting some GPA milestones via our social media accounts. So keep an eye out for those. 

If you would like to find out more about LGBT History Month and events happening in your area, please visit www.lgbthistory.org.uk


Moving on, it has been a busy month so I thought I’d highlight some of the work I and the Executive Committee have been doing. 


HMICS

My first formal engagement of the year was a meeting with HM Inspector of Constabulary Mr Derek Penman QPM and Assistant HM Inspector of Constabulary Mr Billy Gordon.  

HMICS play a crucial role in ensuring policing is delivered to the highest possible standards, is continually improving, effective and responsive to local needs. It is therefore important that HMICS have at their disposal perspectives from minority groups from within policing and the diverse communities across Scotland who rely on policing in keeping them and their communities safe. 

We had a very productive meeting covering a wide range of topics. I was able (with evidence at hand…..obviously) to demonstrate that in areas where we have seen constructive engagement with GPA Scotland progress has been made. However it is also our ability to ‘scratch beneath the surface’ through our members that give us a fuller picture that statistics alone don’t provide. 

So with ‘engagement’ in mind, I look forward to our next meeting with HMICS. 

You can also follow HMICS on Twitter (@hmics) and Mr Penman (@HMICscotland)


LGBT Reference Group

Not only was this the first meeting of the Reference Group in 2017 but also the first meeting for PC Susan Ross who has taken over from PC Simon Daley with the Safer Communities LGBT portfolio. As Chair of the Reference Group I felt it would be beneficial for Susan if the meeting spent some time doing a recap on some of the key issues from the previous meeting. 

For those that may not be aware reading this blog, the LGBT Reference Group is a remnant of ACPOS (the former Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland) Diversity Business Area consisting of representatives from the Police, COPFS, GPA Scotland and a wide variety of national and local LGBTI groups and organisations. 

It now sits essentially as a reference group for Police Scotland Safer Communities. 

It would be fair to say that a considerable discussion was had concerning LGBT hate crime/incident stats. 

Currently, hate crime figures released and in the public domain for Scotland are produced by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. These figures do not include recorded hate crimes received by the police which are subsequently not reported to COPFS (e.g. due to a lack of evidence). 

I hope that we can make some progress on what is now a long standing issue.


People and Development Equality and Diversity Governance Group

The meeting was held on 27th January which coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day. I asked for the HMD Trust video to be shown during the meeting. This powerful short film demonstrates the importance of supporting others and creating a safer community. “You need social courage. Social courage means not just taking responsibility for yourself but society and for others”. You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/q_cYxuS4emc

I asked about the new Exit Interviews and whilst these have only been in place for 6 months, I shall be seeking data on uptake and any equality issues going forward. 

We also await an update on the ‘Pulse’ staff survey and in particular responses from LGB officers and staff. 


Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2017

Stonewall revealed their ‘Top 100’ UK employers in January and Police Scotland have leaped from number 83 last year to number 20 this year. A huge achievement by any standards. GPA Scotland contributes significantly to the WEI submission process and our members give their feedback via the staff questionnaire. 

I mentioned earlier the significance of constructive engagement and cooperation. A wheel consists of many cogs but each cog depends on the other to maintain the overall performance of the wheel. The Stonewall WEI is a prime example of what can be achieved when the various parts come together and cooperate. 


GPA Scotland Executive Committee Meeting 

Our first meeting of 2017 took place on 8th February. A new Strategy for the Association is being developed including a revamp of our Aims/Objectives and Executive Structure. This follows own from the Strategic Review Exercise which took place at the AGM in 2016. Some of the proposals will require changes to the constitution and as such all members will be provided with the details in advance of the AGM this year (9th August) including a period of consultation. Also a new working group will be set up to focus on membership and engagement. 

This year is also an election year for the Executive Committee and I’d urge all GPA Scotland members to consider putting themselves forward. Nomination forms will be distributed in May and the election will take place in June for the new Executive Committee. 


Support and Interventions

An area of our work that we don’t often highlight. Indeed there is good reason why we don’t. Anyone who contacts us for whatever reason does so in the knowledge that we operate on an entirely confidential basis. I and other Executive Committee members correspond routinely whether that be by telephone, email, social media or in person with police officers and staff and members of the public on almost a daily basis. Indeed we receive communication from people across the world. 

I mention this because it is an important aspect of our work but often flies under the radar for obvious reasons. Having easy access to GPA Scotland and being able to provide peer support makes a valuable contribution to the wellbeing of police officers and staff.


Until next time,

Yours,

Alan