Snitching, Racism and Morale.

Today there were 12 officers, 8 from the Met, 4 from Northern Ireland, suspended for racism.
Now we do not accept anyone being racist but it is, if you hear something racist, sexist, homophobic, or whatever, very difficult to ‘snitch’ on a colleague. Today the news had two poignant sentences which were:

“The Met does not tolerate racism.” said Mr O’Connor,

But Mr O’Connor said the notion of officers

“telling tales on each other was not good for morale”.

So how do we deal with it?

There are a few things that I feel should be brought to our attention. Firstly, why now? Those cynics would say it could be a way of deflecting the light from the Winsor report which, while officers are being shown in a racist light, could be a way of taking the attention from the Winsor recommendations so they can be implemented quickly and quietly, or just very bad timing?
Racism is wrong and those that do it shouldn’t be worthy enough to do the job, however, why has this been top stories when the Winsor report seems to have got lost in the ether of the news?

The other issue is ‘How do you report a colleague?’, well this is a difficult one, it requires guts and the ability to be able to fully justify why, otherwise you will have the mud of ‘squealer’ stuck to you for the rest of your career. Yes, it should be the person who has done wrong, but nope, it’s the ‘grass’ that finds it difficult.
It is hard enough that we are under the scrutiny of the government, papers and the public already with hard hitting headlines – ‘Officer kills student whilst driving’, ‘Officers spark racism row’ etc etc, so when we become under the scrutiny of our colleagues it becomes even harder.
Oh my, when I think of previous misdemeanours and conversations that people have had in the past, it just doesn’t bear thinking about, but now, we need to work together.

I cannot abide racism, sexism, and other ‘isms’, however if we as officers have to keep looking around to see who is doing what with whom, looking to see what see what is going on between who it makes the job 100% harder.
I have disciplined officers before and would do it again, however I do not intend to have to do it in the future. I have told my officers that they need to ‘treat people with dignity and respect and if they don’t then they are in the wrong job.
There is now in most forces a ‘confidential PSD’ line where you can anonymously snitch on your colleagues, of course it isn’t anonymous as you are already logged in under your name on the system, and if it is worth anything then PSD will come down to see you- they might as well being a big hat with the ‘snitch’ to wear saying ‘I’m a rat’.
There are ways and means of doing things and writing anonymously isn’t sitting comfortably with me, either stand up and be counted or don’t say anything.

Of course the forces ‘get out clause’ is

we gave them the necessary training.

What training? Do they mean the e-learning we get given which can be done either at home or with ‘downtime’ ? Downtime doesn’t always necessarily exist and I do know of officers who just click through it so fast, leave the videos running when they go and make a cuppa, or just don’t bother. How is that sufficient training? Classroom based training and discussion is far more interesting and helpful as healthy discussion regarding issues can be talked through, whereas sitting in the station, by yourself during a busy shift, particularly nights (who has their brain ticking over then?) is not good. As I said it is the get out clause for ‘ they have had the training’.

So what is the answer? Well I guess the answer is to not have ‘those’ type of people in the first place. How do you ‘weed out’ racist, sexist, and homophobes before they can even start? Some people have these attitudes ingrained from family, friends and colleagues, and it is up to us to highlight that this is not healthy and not acceptable. Only hands on training can do this in my opinion, not staring at a computer monitor with someone talking at you. There needs to be discussion amongst colleagues to help others understand that you should treat people as you would want to be treated and you cannot do that with the current e-learning, non interactive training there is now. The training does cost of course, but it is far more cost effective than taking officers off the streets and into a classroom.

Just a last note, but isn’t it strange how the media is showing the police in a bad light just as these reforms are coming through. What about all the good things we do, haven’t seen much of that in the media. Cynical moi? Non! Well may be just a little…….

Stay safe,

Insp. Juliet Brav

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