Written evidence submitted by Women of Colour in Policing (WoCiP BCH) Bedfordshire Constabulary (POP0095)


What can be done to improve community policing and increase trust in police officers and forces, including on funding and on disciplinary powers when police officer behaviour falls below required standards.

What can be done to improve community policing and increase trust in police officers and forces

‘Community; Community is a group of people who share something in common; alike in some way; have shared attributes of people in it and or by the strength of the connections among them. Community is a sense of belonging through interpersonal connection.’

The purpose of policing is primarily to preserve the peace, prevent crime and where this has not been possible, to enforce the law. British policing is undertaken with the consent of the public and therefore the relationship policing has with the public is fundamental to its ability to succeed. Community trust and confidence should be at the heart of the policing mission.

In 1829 Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel said ‘Police Officers are regarded as citizens in uniform. They exercise their powers to police their fellow citizens with the implicit consent of those fellow citizens.’

Sir Robert Peel’s ideology was for police to be effective, efficient, and legitimate. Two hundred years later, we have lost sight of what policing is. It is evident that things need to change, and unusually, we need to look back to what’ good policing looks like.’

Engaging the public and start to build trust and confidence will support the change needed in turning around the negativity surrounding policing in this current climate.

Building good trust and confidence requires the ability for communities to see themselves in uniform, to see that policing is everyone’s responsibility, not the sole duty of the police. If policing does not represent the communities it serves, it makes it exceedingly difficult for communities to see themselves as part of the solution.

Communities need to see themselves in uniform, like for like, Asian women, need to see female Asian officers, travellers need to see an officer from the travelling community, for example; it is not enough to just recruit based on Positive Action (PA), we need to be more focused on recruiting citizens in uniform for the diverse communities they represent. Only then will we begin to build the trust, respect, and consent of the officer in uniform, to been seen as legitimate for their community. McKinley & Company (Women in the Workplace 2022), report organisation which implore Positive Action and role modelling have greater representation, retention, and confidence in the organisational structure.

Social sciences and empirical research tell us that people like and trust other people who display appearance-related similarity to themselves (Debruises, 2002, 2005). We also know that research indicates people with similar interests, attitudes and beliefs are more easily trusted (Gordon, 1992). Furthermore, DeBruine, 2002, goes on to say that when people perceive greater levels of similarity in others, they show higher levels of cooperation and trustworthy behaviour.

The evidence clearly shows to build trust and confidence between the public and policing requires the police to fully reflect its community, and therefore positive action is so crucial to the policing mission. Until policing is fully reflective of its communities, it cannot hope to achieve the full range of trust and confidence from which it would otherwise benefit.

As a direct consequence of the current imbalance, certain sections of communities are less likely to trust and cooperate with policing and therefore the level of intelligence, information and help policing receive from underrepresented groups is likely to be lower than from other groups in the community.

Back to basics approach where the police are the community, and the community are the police. A relationship that is authentic and built on respect. A police force that reflects the communities that it serves.

A police force that chooses to listen and include its communities as stakeholders rather than an audience watching on from the side-lines.

Equality, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work is always the first areas that are financially cut when budgets are up for review. It cannot continue with the ‘stop-start’ approach to building foundations which it has become accustomed to, and the Government funding for an effective Police service must be secured for longevity and not under temporal remit. There must be a commitment to sustainability in this area. Policing can ill afford to lose relationships with the diversity of communities it works in. If it does not achieve representation, then policing will never be able to fully deliver on its mission.

Policing cannot continue with the ‘stop start approach to building foundations.

Examples of work undertaken by WoCiP BCH to improve workforce representation and to encourage retention and progression include:



Elders and Community Leaders look to the Police to maintain respectful congruency. We lead from the front and our communities deserve good leadership within policing, we deserve to be led well because when not, the attrition rate is high amongst under-represented officers first.


Including on funding

Modern day policing must recognise the short falls and address the issues. Policing has undergone much transformation across internal and external policing engagement. There remains the issues around trust in police officers and forces which has a domino effect of all of policing.

If society is to benefit from excellent community policing, then at the heart of decision making, it is imperative that there is a move towards a more egalitarian environment where equality, diversity and justice are not just words but actions. Funding and resourcing are imperative to be at a sustainable level. There must be budget injection into increasing resources into Professional Standards focusing on anti-corruption and rooting out individuals who seek to undermine our mission and damage public trust and confidence along the way A national Anti-Corruption Team should be designed and implemented to proactively tackle issues from online behaviours through to OCG infiltration. We cannot continue to have officers who have worked with and know each other, investigating each other. There must be a sterile corridor between the suspect and the investigator.

and on disciplinary powers when police officer behaviour falls below required standards

The standards expected from officers must be a zero-tolerance approach. The public must see that Policing holds itself to a high standard, because if this is not the case public confidence will be damaged. Communication with the public is also crucial. The public must be told that investigations are being conducted and that action is being taken. They must also be told to expect more, not less.

How scrutiny of how our officers is examined, is not only vital internally but externally too and more than we ever, can affirm building confidence but this has a generational effect too. The modern-day Police Service needs the trust and confidence of its youth to make change, join and remain in policing to be inclusive and diverse. It needs the resources to be able to fortify the services within and across policing, transversely into our communities, which will demonstrate that honest commitment to them.

Modern day Policing should include the knowledge of how our communities are constructed, and how the culture lends itself to be governed. Policing by consent means we engage our communities to be the law enforcement agency. To hear the critical things which are important to our communities, the history of its governance and the trauma from interactions including Police perpetrated crimes.

Often, the public perception of Policing and what it requires for Communities within, factors strongly on trust and confidence and reducing the perception of what disorder is. Communities, whilst wanting and needing to be Policed, find that the very Organisation is, at times, its offender.’ This can be from present experiences, past trauma, feeling they have been neglected, lived experiences and the strong belief that there is not enough authenticity and honesty in Policing. Thus, the effects spiral against the lawful governance of the Community.

This is where engagement is critical to foster cohesion, and bring together the leaders, the municipal body, and this is centre of culture. The Community includes all who work, live, learn, play, pray and even die and rest therein. There is formal leadership and then local leadership, the person people go to – to get things done.’ In understanding culture, Policing understands and can interpret the needs of those communities; their structures, and the way in which they interact with the Police; to reduce crime and disorder, to build that trust and confidence needed to police effectively.

There should be a constant presence of an external Community Panel member involved in investigations to improve damaged, trust and confidence and to bring cohesion. It is tackling the problems it has head on without fear or favour and whilst this may make difficult reading from those inside and outside of policing, it shows beyond any doubt policing will no longer tolerate misconduct of any sort, anymore.

Finally, to speak openly on the rights and wrongs committed in those communities, to build trusting relationships. When policed correctly, the community engagement means they will stand up when their own communities do wrong.



DeBruine, L. M. (2002). Facial resemblance enhances trust. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 269(1498), 1307-1312.

DeBruine, L. M. (2005). Trustworthy but not lust-worthy: Context-specific effects of facial resemblance. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 272(1566), 919-922.

Gordon, R. M. (1992). The simulation theory: Objections and misconceptions. Mind & Language.

1829 Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel Metropolitan Police Act 1829

Macpherson Twenty-Two Imran Khan & Partners July 2021

National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) & College of Policing Police Race Action Plan 1st Iteration May 2022

Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities: The Report – March 2021

WoCiP Timeline Sandra Smith November 2022


March 2023