June 2020 Update

The GRTPA condemns all forms of racism or discrimination towards any individual or group of people. Our ethos is based upon fairness, respect, solidarity and the determination to improve the working conditions of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Police Officers and staff, along with vitally improving service provision to our communities.

The month of June is a significant one for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, as it celebrates the diverse ways in which the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities add to the vibrancy of life in the UK and recognises the varied contributions that we continue to make.

June 2020 has been an extremely difficult month for all of us. We are all outraged and disturbed by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Department officers. We continue to express our deepest sympathies and love for the friends and family of George Flloyd, but also to our black friends, colleagues and the wider communities. We stand with you in the fight against racism and we concur the Black Lives Matter campaign. We stand shoulder to shoulder and see eye to eye.

The GRTPA is also aware of other recent events occurring in Europe, whereby Police brutality against the Roma communities is still present. An example would be from Slovakia. A police officer is said to have beaten five young children with a baton and according to the children’s testimony, he even threatened to shoot them. The entire incident is said to have been observed and unchallenged by a soldier from the Slovak army. We understand an investigation has been launched however this demonstrates what our communities across the world are still subject to. 

Racism and discrimination towards Gypsy, Roma and Travellers is also very much prevalent within the UK and unfortunately the Police service isn’t an exception. Our members often report incidents to us, some of which we find truly appalling and ensure are immediately acted upon.

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National Diversity Awards 2020 Nominations

The National Diversity Awards celebrates the excellent achievements of grass- root communities that tackle the issues in today’s society, giving them recognition for their dedication and hard work.

In 2019 the GRTPA has been nominated for the National Diversity Awards and subsequently, shortlisted to receive the award of Community Organisation Award for Race, Religion & Faith. This year, we have the chance to be shortlisted yet again and hopefully, we might even win the award.

If you wish to nominate us, please click on this link www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/nominate/28773/ and complete the submission form.

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Interested in Joining The Police?

Starting a career in the police can be one of the best things you’ll ever do. You’ll be able to make a real difference in your community, reducing crimes and making people safer. Find out how to join the police and learn more about a career in policing at www.joiningthepolice.co.uk

Ready to apply? Find out which forces are recruiting now at www.joiningthepolice.co.uk/which-forces-are-recruiting

Already applying If you’re already in the process of applying you can find out more about the application process, including tips and advice for a successful application www.joiningthepolice.co.uk/how-to-apply

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Channel 4 Dispatches - GRTPA Response

Having watched Dispatches last night, the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association believe that the programme was racist, unbalanced and extremely offensive to the Gypsy and Traveller Community.

We were disgraced by the content of it and have already seen an increase in the prejudice our community faces as a result.

The Association would like to ask NPCC lead for GRT communities to support a national review into the service provision by police to GRT communities.

This review should focus on identifying and eliminating internal systematic institutional racism and bias.

The need for this is not only evidenced by the Traveller Movement report into relationships between GRT and Police but also the fact a uniformed police officer on national television felt it was acceptable and safe to be openly racist. His remarks show a complete lack of understanding of the complexities that exist in community policing and indeed policing today.

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National Police Diversity Awards - 2019

In 2019 the GRTPA has been nominated for the National Diversity Awards and subsequently, shortlisted to receive the award of Community Organisation Award for Race, Religion & Faith.

We believe the GRTPA has been nominated for the community organisation award due to the positive impact we are making in an area of the community that has typically suffered awful discrimination and who have low confidence in public services.

GRTPA is working everyday towards making a change so that the Gypsy Roma Traveller community have confidence in the services they seek.

We are making positive changes by challenging discrimination and through education and as a result Gypsy, Roma and Travellers are seeing that our actions are steps in the right direction and an increased confidence in our work and principles.

Despite not winning the award, we feel extremely proud to have been nominated and shortlisted and it shows the progress the GRTPA has made and appreciation of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

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2019 Progress for The GRTPA

In May 2019, a GRTPA representative became a panel member at the Traveller Movement to advise and recommend to the non-governmental organisation on strategies for change to promote diversity within the UK for Irish Travellers and Gypsy communities of the UK.

In July 2019, representatives of the GRTPA attended the Welsh assembly on behalf of Romani Arts to highlight the need to provide better safeguarding to LGBTQI individuals from within the GRT communities of the UK. The current trends in suicide are linked by some to individuals being unable to access support that is available to non-marginalised groups. This is part of the GRPTA’s work to reduce the number of suicides from within the community and enable people to be open about sexuality.

In December 2019, director Peter Kotlar, alongside a fellow colleague and chair of the LGBT staff association at Cheshire, welcomed a group of Roma youths at the Cheshire Police HQ, working in conjunction with a Roma charity based in Liverpool. Peter and his colleague presented the various roles available within the Police service and the educational requirements for the roles. Many Roma youths have aspirations to join the Police however sometimes lack of knowledge and understanding of the recruitment process can hinder their progress. The GRTPA is keen on working with recruitment campaigns to try and recruit more people from GRT backgrounds within the Police service.

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2019 - Country wide review of Police Forces

In April 2019, the GRTPA undertook a County wide review of UK Police Forces into practices concerning GRT communities.

The GRTPA presented to officers of all ranks, as well as community members about combatting the negative practices surrounding GRT that exist within some police practices, policy and procedure.

The purpose of this was to enable forces to progress, move forwards and better fulfil their duty to promote diversity and equality.

Following the meeting the force have agreed to review policy and procedures and the GRTPA will be working with them in this review.

The GRTPA is scheduled to extend this work in the coming months to other Police Forces across the country.

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2017/8 Conferences, Training & Progress

In June 2017, GRTPA held a conference in Cheshire, to discuss the national issue of inequalities of service to Domestic Abuse victims from GRT communities in the UK paving the way to encourage a fair and accessible service to all.

In September 2018, Director Peter Kotlar took part in a training course in Strasbourg, France on combating antigypsyism and human rights. The training course was delivered by the Council of Europe and Peter implemented the action plan initiated during the course into the work we do within the GRTPA on combating discrimination and racism we are faced with regularly.

In October 2018 a GRTPA representative spoke in Ukrainian Parliament about the importance of the inclusion of minority ethnic groups, such as GRT, in public services. The event entitled “Realising the Rights of Roma Women in Ukraine” brought about national change in policing concerning the protection of Roma Communities following a joint submission of recommendations. http://newsme.com.ua/en/society/4093239/

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2016 Publicly challenging discrimination

In 2016 the GRTPA expanded its external work to publicly challenge discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Travellers on a bigger scale. The GRTPA identified cases, practices and policy that could be considered as racism with the aim of making public services truly available to all on a fair and equal basis. The GRTPA is working towards making the police an attractive career option for GRT communities by working closely in the community and with other organisations.

All of our work is carried out in our spare time in additional to full time operational roles and without financial reward. The association now has over one hundred and fifty members and has active membership in over thirty of the forty three Police Forces. We also have members in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, France, Sweden, Italy and the Republic of Ireland.

Also in 2016, discriminatory practices were identified by the GRTPA in relation to Operation Liberal and were highlighted to the National Police Chief’s Council.

The GRTPA spent two years working on challenging the prejudice to implement a review in relation to Operation Liberal. Subsequently the GRTPA spoke in UK Parliament at the Women and Equalities Committee meeting and subsequently the unit was disbanded following this. The GRTPA representative took considerable risk to his career by taking on this challenge on such a scale and the longstanding campaign took up a large proportion of the GRTPA’s work from 2016-2019.

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British delegation visits Roma settlement in Jarovnice

In July 2015 delegates of the GRTPA, including Director Kate West who was then GRTPA Secretary, visited Roma settlements in Jarovnice and Kosice.  The purpose of the GRTPA’s visit was to seek solutions to issues plaguing Roma living both in Slovakia and in the UK.

One of the guests was also ethnic Czech Peter Torák, decorated with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, who, aside from being a police officer in the UK, also serves as vice-president of the international police organisation GRTPA that provides assistance to Roma employed on the force.

Before visiting Jarovnice, Torák also spoke with Prešov Regional Police Director Dušan Sabol and discussed not only the issue of Roma police officers but also the process of working with Roma and challenges faced in the interaction with this community by Slovaks and Brits.

In Jarovnice, Torák spoke with police officers as well as inhabitants of the settlement. There are five ethnic Roma specialists assigned to the settlement who carry out the role of the so-called ‘good policemen’. Among their job description is to tackle issues of the day, take care of paperwork and mediate communication with Roma community, TASR wrote.

There are 65 such specialists in Prešov Region, one of them also being an ethnic Roma woman.

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