Written evidence submitted by Jack Fitzpatrick (POP0011)

1. The following evidence will be of interest on topic 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the select committee’s call for evidence.

2. My name is Jack Fitzpatrick, I am 21 years old and I have a diagnosis of Autism and Dyspraxia. I am currently studying for a PhD in Education at Liverpool John Moores University evaluating ‘Modern Policing in the 21st Century Time for Inclusive Cultural Shift’. I am in partnership with Merseyside Police for this study to evaluate their approach to Equality Diversity and Inclusion (for the purposes of brevity I will now use the abbreviation EDI going forward) to see what could be improved for neurodiverse employees. This study will hopefully contribute towards restoring trust, confidence, and legitimacy in the police, both in the perception of the public and employees of forces around the country, creating a more inclusive and diverse force, embracing diversity, and restoring faith in under-represented and disadvantaged communities maintaining the delicate relationship of policing by consent within the UK.

3. Inclusive organisational culture has been placed in the spotlight in recent years due to the Black Lives Matter and Me-Too movements, creating a drive for organisations to actively engage and commit to EDI. Diversity & Inclusion principles and practice are now an organisational priority in workforces but there is still a long way to go despite improvements, framed by the nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Therefore, more investment in time, infrastructure and dedicated resources should be created to tackle this change and move to a more inclusive policing culture.

4. My perception of what a modern police service, fit for the 2020s and beyond is to truly reflect the diversity of society in the UK through designing organisational cultures to be inclusive, through the development of affinity groups or staff networks to reflect the diversity that is within each of the forty-three police forces within the UK.

5. I think that due to policing going through a challenging time with the media spotlight calling for reform, the time is right for a new Royal Commission on Policing. This is due to the world being significantly different and policing priorities changing since the last Commission in 1962. Therefore, two years after the promised inception of the Royal Commission it still has not happened and is a government priority as highlighted in His Majesties Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) State of Policing Report 2021 by Sir Tom Winsor.[1]

6. To bring policing into the 21st century, alternative approaches must be considered for members of the law enforcement community. This includes positive recruitment drives for underrepresented groups particularly those who are Neurodiverse. This is because neurodiverse individuals have high pattern recognition and are an untapped talent pool which can help solve the most difficult problems facing policing.

7. A positive example of neurodiverse recruitment can be drawn from the intelligence community where GCHQ is one of the biggest neurodiverse recruiters within the UK. GCHQ have adapted their recruitment processes to allow people who are neurodiverse more time within the recruitment process to answer questions, park questions to be answered later and are now allowing assistive technology within the workplace. Jeremy Fleming Director of GCHQ has described neurodiversity as “mission critical”[2] and to ensure that everyone reaches their full potential within GCHQ. This shows a committed organisation that is within the same sector, valuing the diversity of thought within society.

8. In addition to this, cultural audits should be commissioned such as the ones conducted by HMICFRS on Fire services within the UK, within the audits EDI was marked as an essential criterion as part of the People pillar. This exercise would help to understand the landscape of diversity and inclusion within each of the police forces and to document best practice, teachings and learning from other forces. This can therefore inform policy and decision making going forward valuing EDI within policing.

9. Neurodiversity is starting to become a priority in police forces through the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and College of Policing setting up a Neurodiversity Committee to evaluate what could be improved in policing to further efforts by including EDI on the national policing agenda.

10. The role that I think police forces should prioritise is the development of their organisational cultures. Investment is key to this and requires increased funding within EDI teams in police forces. This is to ensure that the infrastructure is there to support colleagues who come from minority groups allowing them to feel confident to disclose and bring their full self to work. Furthermore, executive buy in is essential in this process from senior officers to take this matter seriously.

11. To restore trust, confidence and legitimacy in police officers, forces must value EDI as an organisational priority. EDI Training and induction must be conducted for all officers before they go out into the community. This is essential in order to allow them to understand the diversity of the local communities that they represent. This is to ensure that the actions and behaviour of officers, reflect the values and upkeep the public image of the force.

12. However, the most recent ‘open letter to leaders of the police for England and Wales’ by the new Home Secretary Suella Braverman published on the 23rd of September 2022 states in paragraph 5 that “Unfortunately, there is a perception that the police have had to spend too much time on symbolic gestures, rather than actually fighting criminals. This must change. Initiatives on diversity and inclusion should not take precedence over common sense policing.”[3] I believe that as part of common-sense policing, diversity and inclusion should be considered and be at the heart of all decision making within the law enforcement sector due to the work that police officers do in diverse communities is crucial to restoring trust, confidence, and legitimacy in the police.

13. The behaviour of some officers, however, is not always in the best interest of the community or the force they serve, and accountability must happen through disciplinary action when an officer or representative of the force acts unlawfully or discriminates. To prevent this from occurring robust safeguards and disciplinary policies must be in place to ensure that if in the event that an officer acts against the best interests of the force they are delt with accordingly. 

14. The Metropolitan Police Service is the largest police force in the UK and has a new commissioner Sir Mark Rowley who has been brought in on a pledge to improve the culture of the organisation. The Met has been in the press recently for a number of negative reasons including having a workplace culture that is causing officers and staff to burn out. Baroness Casey states in her initial report findings on the culture within the Metropolitan Police published on the 17th October 2022 that “In summary, my conclusion is that the misconduct system is not delivering in a way that you, I, your officers or the public would expect it to. Cases are taking too long to resolve, allegations are more likely to be dismissed than acted upon, the burden on those raising concerns is too heavy, and there is racial disparity across the system, with White officers dealt with less harshly than Black or Asian officers. Initiatives such as Signa and ‘Not in My Met’ are positive but the misconduct system itself needs to change if these well intentioned campaigns and actions are to have any sustainable impact”.[4] Thus tackling the racial disparity and allegations of racism within the Metropolitan Police is crucial in order to create a diverse, effective and reflective work force to help restore trust, confidence and legitimacy in policing and ensuring that it is truly reflective of the society that we live in implementing dignity, respect and human rights for the workforce, victims and service users that interact with the police on a daily basis.

15. Therefore, an innovative approach is needed in order for this to be improved. This approach should consist of consulting with colleagues to ensure that they feel comfortable with the culture of the Met and what they would like to see be improved for EDI in the near future. In addition, there are a number of priorities that have been outlined on their website including delivering on Operation Signa, which is to challenge harassment, discrimination, and sexually inappropriate behaviours in the workplace. This is of significance due to the murder of Sarah Everard and the Met are creating safe spaces through the operation to help combat this.

16. However, from my research the focus is primarily on getting women to feel safe in the workplace and enabling females to enter policing as this is a national priority within law enforcement underpinned by the Home Office Violence Towards Women and Girls Strategy. A more holistic 360-degree approach considering staff and officers is needed in order to create a fully inclusive workplace. More consideration needs to be made towards other protected characteristics including disability, LGBTQI+ and ethnicity representations within the force. This therefore needs to be a strategic priority within the new commissioner’s remit.

17. To conclude, my opinion on the state of policing in the 21st century is that development of culture, infrastructure and training needs to be increased in order to create an inclusive, open, and welcoming organisational culture. There must be a focus and recruitment drive for officers and staff who are neurodiverse as highlighted through the impact that this has upon innovation and workforce design within GCHQ. EDI needs to be at the heart of all decision making due to the diversity of thought and the communities that are interacting with the police on a daily basis.

October 2022


[1] https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/publication-html/state-of-policing-in-england-and-wales-2021/


[2] https://twitter.com/GCHQ/status/1108053771517607936?s=20&t=VrAElnEJ2MPIfOxzGHhRwA


[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/home-secretary-letter-to-police-leaders/open-letter-to-leaders-of-the-police-for-england-and-wales-accessible


[4] https://www.met.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/media/downloads/met/about-us/baroness-casey-review/baroness-casey-letter-to-commissioner-accessible.pdf