Why police need impartiality and empathy after chief constable’s worries over ‘wokeness’: The Yorkshire Post says

Remarks from former South Yorkshire Police chief constable Stephen Watson that the public are becoming fed up of “virtue-signalling police officers when they’d really rather we just locked up burglars” will undoubtedly resonate with many but the truth is the truth is a little more complicated.

Former chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Stephen Watson.
Former chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police Stephen Watson.

Mr Watson, who has recently taken charge of Greater Manchester Police, was making the point in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that the idea of showing support for various campaign groups through activities like taking the knee or wearing supportive badges or pins carries the danger of upsetting the vital importance of showing impartiality.

As he points out, “officers could put themselves in a difficult place because if you demonstrate you’re not impartial, and you then have to make an arrest, how on earth do you assist the courts to come to just judgement as to you having executed your powers of arrest in an appropriately impartial professional manner?”

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This is an entirely fair point but it is also worth remembering that being aware of our changing world and making police forces more diverse can be a strength for police forces and not a weakness.

To give just one example, PC Uzma Amireddy, who is the North Yorkshire Police’s Positive Action Coordinator, recently explained in this newspaper that having officers who can speak more than one language can help communicate with victims of crime whose stories might not otherwise be understood and acted upon.

Impartiality is vital to effective policing - but equally so is empathy and understanding.

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