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Community leaders come together to celebrate diversity in National Hate Crime Awareness Week

COMMUNITY leaders from across Peterborough joined Police and Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston for a special meeting aimed at widening understanding of the safety issues faced by ethnic minority residents in the town.

The event took place on Tuesday (October 11th) at Thorpe Wood Police Station in Peterborough, as the nation marked National Hate Crime Awareness Week (NHCAW).

It was arranged to give community champions from a multitude of backgrounds the chance to raise any issues or concerns they have about policing while also highlighting the progress being made in partnership with the Safer Peterborough Partnership to keep local people safe.

Throughout NHCAW, Darryl will be supporting communities to celebrate their multicultural roots and stamp out hate crime by emphasising the importance of reporting any incidents or experiences to the police.

The meeting, which was arranged with support from Bernadetta Omondi, a member of Darryl’s Community Scrutiny Group and Chair of the Peterborough Racial Equality Council, Kenyan Community and Black History Month Committee, raised the need for greater diversity across the Constabulary’s workforce to better represent the city’s multicultural communities and for the need for increased understanding of the unique customs and cultures of different community groups to deliver a better and more informed service to those communities.

Attendees included Nikki Makanjuola, Chair of the Nigerian Community in Peterborough, Dr Qin, representative of the Chinese community, Mohammed Hakim, Chair of the Bangladesh community in Peterborough, Nyasha Banhire, representative of Zimbabwe community, Michael Effah, representative of the Ghana community, Rebwar Hussein, representative of the Kurdish community and Raimonda Gecaite, representative of the charity Compas, which works with marginalised and migrant communities.

Darryl has prioritised ‘Putting Communities First’ in his Police and Crime Plan and has outlined his commitment to listen to every community and work with them to act on their concerns.

He has also pledged to promote a culture that is inclusive, diverse and takes equality seriously within the force and is determined to increase opportunities for local people from diverse backgrounds to play an active role in policing.

The PCC oversees a Community Scrutiny Panel with membership from a variety of backgrounds to provide independent oversight into how stop and search and the use of force are exercised by Cambridgeshire Constabulary. It forms part of his Police and Crime Plan priority to deliver Ethical Policing and ensure police act with integrity and social responsibility and remain accountable to the public.

During the meeting, the Commissioner encouraged leaders to promote the opportunities available to join the group and his Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) scheme within their communities. He also pledged to follow up their suggestions for a separate group where local leaders could work more closely with the Commissioner over his crime prevention plans and influence other key decisions. 

Darryl said: “It was a pleasure to meet with local community leaders here in Peterborough and understand how crime and policing impacts their communities. It is important to me that all our communities feel listened to and valued and have trust and faith in the criminal justice system so they feel able to report crime if they become a victim.

“Clearly, more work is needed to improve awareness of the differences between the various cultures represented in the town and to build relationships between the police and local people so residents know where and with whom to turn if they need help.

“I’m very grateful to Bernadetta for helping to bring this event together in National Hate Crime Awareness Week. I am proud to be supporting this campaign and the strong message it sends to our communities to come together in solidarity and strength to celebrate difference.”

Bernadetta added: “I feel honoured to bring the Community Leaders to meet the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“I believe that it is important for the statutory bodies to link with the community. Through this many issues/crimes in the community can be resolved before they happen. ‘Prevention is better than cure’. I believe also for the Police and Crime Commissioner to know the communities in Peterborough. Peterborough is a multicultural city and it is important for the Police/ Statutory bodies to engage with them and create trust.”

Nikki Makanjuola said: “I think the engagement we have is very useful. We learnt a lot that we didn’t know about what his role is in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire and he listened to everything we had to say and there were quite a lot of take aways for us and also for him, so I’m hoping that this engagement will continue in the future – very positive.”

NHCAW is an annual week of action that takes place this year from 8th – 16th October.

During the week, campaigners work together with key partners, local authorities, and communities impacted by hate crime on a series of events to start conversations and raise awareness of the importance of reporting incidents to the police.

The Commissioner’s Community Scrutiny Panel is coming to its third year of service and is looking for new members to support its work. For more information, visit: Working alongside the Safer Peterborough Partnership in reducing crime and disorder. Supporting me in the recruitment of Independent Custody Visitors.