Police officers warned to drop ‘classist’ attitude

Police officers must mind their manners and eliminate ‘classism’ towards different members of the public, a chief constable has warned.

Julie Spence, head of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said too many officers treated people differently based on stereotypes of their class or where they live, leaving a bad impression with the public.

Her comments follow a study published earlier this year, Closing the Gaps: Crime and Public Perception, which showed that victims and witnesses of crime have less confidence in the criminal justice system after dealings with police.

Spence told Personnel Today that officers should not let stereotypes affect how they deal with the public. “If a teenager starts ‘f-ing and blinding’ at an officer, he will sometimes use the same language back. However, the officer will treat a little old lady in a middle class area in a nicer way.”

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, urged police to use common sense. But a spokeswoman warned: “If officers are given strict guidelines or a tight script they must adhere to, it is likely to cause more problems.”

David Williams, personnel director at West Midlands Police, also warned against becoming too prescriptive.

“We need to invest in training to make sure PCs leave a good impression with the public,” he said. “But it’s not just about training; good briefing of officers before they go into a disadvantaged area is essential. I do not want to see just another set of training packages.”

Policewomen need mentor support to progress

Policewomen should have a senior mentor in their force to help them reach the top jobs, the National Policing Improvement Agency has said. Currently, just 12% of women get to ranks of chief inspector and above.

Development adviser Estelle Thistleton said: “We are trialling a pilot for everyone from under-represented groups to have a senior mentor in their force.”

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