I’ve written over the past couple of years since I started my blog that, he has ignored me with regards to my experiences of discrimination within the force.
However, recently I managed to ask him a direct question face-to-face at a public event he was at and yes I managed to ask him another question ‘live’ online on Friday.
When a public servant is asked a question in public, it is very hard for him or her not to answer it especially when it is asked with calm and measure. Both my only two questions to him, had been in this way.
On Friday, I asked the Commissioner this:
Do you think the ‘canteen culture’ within the MPS/Police Service in general, will ever change?
By canteen culture, I mean… racism, homophobia, sexism and so forth. More importantly, it is about the prevalent attitudes which inhibit officers from reporting or speaking out against malpractice and racism etc.
The Commissioner for the second time answered my question to him directly, stating…
Our culture has some strengths – courage, integrity and reasonableness. There are also things we will need to change. I am proud of the people in the Met but remain aware that like any other organisation we can improve. Individual failings should not condemn 50,000 people. You may have seen in an earlier answer that we are going to work each year with our 10,000 leaders to improve our professionalism. I am confident this will help us to improve.
A few things came to mind, from the Commissioner’s response to me.
1. Certain aspects of the police culture do have strengths, or I wouldn’t have served for over a decade as an officer. But, the very existence of the ‘canteen culture’ destroys many of these.
2. Having been an insider and an operational officer serving in various uniform, plain clothes and detective roles, there are lots that need to change to improve the service and better serve the public.
3. I understand the Met is a big organisation like many others, however it is an institution that upholds the law and has the power to take away ones liberty which should never be taken lightly. The very use of these powers can have a devastating effect on people.
4. Individual failings should not condemn an organisation, but my experience having served in the country’s two biggest forces (Greater Manchester Police was number 2 at the time) contrasts to one bad apple.
5. It is good that 10,000 leaders will be worked with to improve professionalism, however in my case of discrimination against Scotland Yard much of the negativity and detrimental treatment I endured was from these very leaders.
6. The only way to improve the Police Service is not necessarily to reflect the make up of the population it serves, but to treat people with respect and dignity regardless of who and what they are. This should be the minimum standard.
Institutionalism discrimination exists today very much so, and my experiences in the 21st Century are proof of that.
I have experienced many acts of discrimination because of my race and sexuality from many people, which make up the ‘institution’.
I challenge anyone, to say otherwise.
This has been a… pushed around, ‘View from the Bottom’.
Take care, Max x.
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Published by My Mum. Copyright © Kevin Maxwell Film, Media & Performance 2012.