POLICE officers celebrated Black History Month by looking at topical issues such as the impact of Covid-19 on black communities.

Essex Police’s virtual conference was attended by 135 police officers, staff, volunteers, and members of local communities across Essex.

Regional and national stakeholders also joined in, some of whom talked about their personal experiences about growing up and policing.

Chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington used the platform to pledge his commitment to further enhancing diversity and equality.

He also spoke of the pride he has in the work which has already taken place across the force. 

Braintree and Witham Times: Chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington Chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington

Chief constable Harrington said: “Black History Month is an opportunity for us all to celebrate the cultures, histories and achievements of Britain’s African and Caribbean communities and to understand the challenges and opportunities facing black communities. 

“We police with the consent of all the community, so inequalities and disproportionality that impact more on any part of those communities, including those unfortunately found in some police tactics, can undermine this trust and confidence.

“This is particularly true in relation to black communities.

"I am committed to work towards resolving these in the months and years ahead, working in partnership with local communities and my officers, staff and volunteers who do the policing.

“I celebrate Black History Month with you and encourage young black people to please join us and become heroes in policing, like the thousands of women, and men, just like you, already working here.”

Hosted by Essex Police's Minority and Ethnic Support Association, the discussion mainly focused on the impact of Covid-19 on black communities.

It also explored their resilience and how the force worked with all communities during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations during the summer to further enhance community cohesion.

Officers and staff also talked about their personal journeys.

Epping Forest and Brentwood district commander chief inspector Antony Alcock said he’d never experienced racism in policing and was privileged to have served in many different and exciting roles. 

He also told how he’d worked hard to ensure that he’s perceived as a credible and competent leader and also shared the challenges of his family life as a young boy.

Braintree and Witham Times: Vernal Scott, Essex Police’s diversity and inclusion manager,Vernal Scott, Essex Police’s diversity and inclusion manager,

Vernal Scott, Essex Police’s diversity and inclusion manager, spoke about his journey as a black man and the importance of drawing a line under the past and looking towards to a more inclusive future.

Chief inspectors Sharn Taylor and Diane Middlemiss also expanded on what the Positive Action Team was doing to attract and recruit a more diverse pool of applicants.

Detective inspector Andy George, president of the National Black Police Association, closed the event by talking about the progress that is being made locally in Essex, as well as regionally and nationally.

Essex Police recently launched a recruitment campaign called, We Value Difference, designed to encourage applications from people who might not traditionally see policing as a career option.

To look into joining Essex Police visit essex.police.uk/fitthebill.