Intercultural Competence

10th May 2011, London: Following several incidents involving the police and members of the public of different cultures, religions and beliefs the country has decided to educate the police force and publish a handbook that is designed to give officers a better understanding of the needs and expectations of the people in the area. This handbook will relate to everyone from asylum seekers and ethnic minorities to travelers, homosexuals and people with disabilities.
The councils Head Officer in Diversity issues said, “It is crucial that the police in Britain understand and are aware of the different cultures involved in the community that they serve in order to improve the service and trust for the people we are protecting”. One incident that caused a lot of media attention to the way that the British police force handles multicultural and diverse members of the public occurred last year in Essex County when a Muslim woman was arrested and the police officer proceeded to search her for concealed weapons.
For Muslim women this is very disrespectful to be searched by a man, who later requested that she remove her headscarf so that he could see her properly. It is incidents like this that are completely cruel to someone with different beliefs than the police officer. After the media had heard about the way this individual was mistreated the police officer involved said, “I had no idea that I was disrespecting her religion or her beliefs and I would have never acted in that manner if I was aware of the vast differences”.

This is why the need for a handbook and more cultural education for the police is necessary to run a more effective police service. Another incident that backs up this handbook was the documentary filmed by the BBC called ‘The Secret Policeman’ (2003) which investigated the police force in Manchester and the large amount of racism displayed during the show, typically referring to Muslim and Middle-Eastern members of the public as ‘Pakis’.
The documentary shows another side of the police that Britain was not aware of, and a particular Junior Officer said a shocking statement, “A dog born in a barn is still a dog. A Paki born in England is still a F****** Paki”. The documentary caused an uproar and the police were forced to take action as the public was no longer comfortable being monitored by such people. The journalist responsible for covering the story; Mark Daly personally went undercover in the Manchester police force and recorded racist behavior with hidden cameras.
Five years later (2008), Daly went back to the police and collected surveys from multicultural members of the force to see if the racism issue had improved, what he discovered yet again was severely disappointing, “this person in particular says he is treated as a slave purely because he is Black”. Other issues came up such as never being promoted based on race, being treated worse than in the 60’s, and that more than 72% of all police officers in Britain had experienced racism at work. The Secret Policeman’ had hours of disgraceful police behavior recorded and really caused the public to be aware of who they are being served by, leading to a huge loss of trust and respect for the entire police force in Britain. This alone was a potentially dangerous situation for the crime rate in the UK. Not only were the police in the UK acting in a racist manner towards members of the public but also towards other police officers.
According to the documentary, each police department in the UK has a required percentage of ethnic minorities that should be involved in the force, however this percentage was not met by any of the police departments. Another survey shows that 50% of Ethnic Minorities that join the police force last less than 6 months, compared to 85% of white officers. The racism occurring amongst the police force members was shown to be very severe and involved extreme racist references to the Ku Klux Klan.
This type of discrimination towards anyone is truly unacceptable and only proves how much the police truly require some further training in respecting, understanding and dealing with cultural differences. The entire country could benefit from a handbook on intercultural sensitivity, as it would create a much better environment for every community in Britain. The BBC documentary ‘The Secret Policeman’ (2003) explores racism in the police force, however there is still a large amount of racism amongst the general public.
This was proven from another documentary also conducted by the BBC ‘Racism in Multicultural Britain’ (2009) where a Middle-Eastern couple went undercover in a housing estate in Bristol. They were targeted by the youth of the estate and were constantly discriminated against for being Muslim and an ethnic minority in the community. They were not only verbally abused but also physically from having rocks and punches thrown at them for no good reason but being different.
As the United Kingdom continues to attract immigrants due to the better opportunities for education and employment the police force needs to adapt. This handbook hopefully symbolizes the acknowledgement for this change and will lead to the entire country becoming more interculturally competent. As more and more people in and outside Britain become aware of the racist issues in the country there will be more action taken to help communities accept and respect other ethnic groups. In the future, discrimination should be eradicated and no longer accepted in British culture.
References:
‘The Secret Police man’ (2003, October 24). Racism In U K Police Force. YouTube . Retrieved May 14, 2011, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_GWy82olhw&feature=related
‘Racism in Multicultural Britain’. (2009, October 21). Racism in Multicultural Britain. YouTube. Retrieved May 14, 2011, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8e6lS7T9yI

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