"Whitewashing" cultures through Statistics


"Whitewashing" cultures through statistics

Should GRTSB Colleagues be able to access Positive Action opportunities to develop and be the best prepared version of themselves as they can be if they are seeking, for example, promotion at work?

The Positive Action is being implemented for employees from underrepresented ethnicities to increase the diversity of the workforce at more senior ranks.

That is not too an unconventional question to pose now, is it?

But… this can be both a complex and an awkward one, however, when discussing GRTSB communities.

As we know, Romanichal or Romany Gypsies, Irish Travellers and Roma people are ethnicities and are seen this way through the Protected Characteristic of Race. However, Showmen, Boaters and New Travellers, even though their heritage may extend back for generations may not be able to claim this.

As an Association and Staff Support Network, these nuances are something which we need to be aware of as we seek to be that broad church that caters for and supports all members.

In this question though, let us refocus on colleagues from GRT heritages.

I suppose we need to consider whether Gypsy, Traveller & Roma officers and staff are under represented in Policing?

We know from the most currently published Census data, that people who classified as Gypsies & Irish Travellers amounted to 0.1% of the English & Welsh population; or 57, 690 people from a total of over 56 Million.

Population of England & Wales 2011 Census Data

This is taken from the 2011 Census data, which was the first Census where there was a specific code for Gypsies & Travellers to chose (NB: Roma were only added in 2021 and this data is still too new and has yet to be published.)

The Self- Identification / Defined Ethnicity Code is called “W3 – White – Gypsy or Irish Traveller” – and is a White Minority code. It is a controversial enough descriptor as it crashes two widely different ethnicities & cultures together into a single ‘blended’ code with Romany Gypsies originating in the North Western part of India and Pavees / Minceirs originating from Ireland – however at the minute is the best there is.

So, in England and Wales Gypsies and Travellers amount to 0.1% of the population – now how does that relate to representation in Policing?

As mentioned above; the W3 code is seen as a “White Minority” code – and this means that for a large number of statistical data reports Gyspies & Irish Travellers are aggragated, or perhaps more accurately “Whitewashed” into the White majority whole – and therefore are kept invisible from comparison with Black or Asian communities.

Police Workforce Ethnicity Data

To get into the detail, however, it is possible to drill down into the full range of Self-Defined Ethnicities by using the data being reported by the Home Office in relation to the Police Uplift Programme, most recently published on 27th July 2022.

Police Uplift Programme data, published 27th July 2022

Table 6b shows that of the 142, 759 Police Officers in England & Wales at the end of June 2022 that self-identify their ethnicity, 31 identify as Gypsy or Irish Traveller.

Just 31 of us who have their Self-Defined ethnicty recorded within the force HR datasets

This is 0.02% of the total police workforce.

Therefore, with complete confidence it is possible to say that Gypsies and Travellers are under-represented in Policing when compared to our presence in the community as a whole.

Answering the question at the start of this article – of course GRT colleagues should ‘qualify’ for Positive Action on the grounds of Race, if these same opportunities are made available for other minority ethnicity colleagues, if they too are under represented in the workforce.

What would happen then if a Police Force were to exclude a GRT colleague from accessing a Positive Action opportunity based upon their Protected Characteristic of Race, because they were “White” or if that organisation through its own failures failed recognise that Characteristic?

It would seem then that colleague would be being disadvantaged and treated less favourably than other colleagues of different ethnicities based solely upon their Race.

This is arguably an example of Discriminatory behaviour – either Witting or Unwitting.

However, there are others issue at play here as well.

It might be that the Colleague has chosen not to self-identify within Police HR systems as they feel that they lack confidence in disclosing this for fear of being treated less favourably.

Sadly, we all know colleagues who are from the communities, but who are not ‘Out’ about it at work.

We respect everyone's personal decision about this, and support completely the right to chose or to 'Prefer not to say'

* This is where we, as a Staff Association, have more work to do, supporting colleagues at work, and challenging inappropriate behaviours at work and promoting inclusion and inclusive language.

A second issue at work here though, is a failure in Police Force HR departments to have embedded the 2011 (or even the 2021) Census Categories into the HR datasets so that there is comparable data available.

Why is this said?

Well, recalling the Home Office’s own data from Table 6b in the Uplift statistics, as linked to above, 27 English & Welsh police forces list no officers as Self-Identifying as Gypsy or Traveller… yet ironically many of these have GRTPA members.

It appears, that through speaking with colleagues, some have no option to identify within their HR system according to the full national Census codes.

This position might be repeated numerous times across the country who also declare that they have no officers who self-identify.

This failure in both data collection – in effect suppressing self-identification and then aggregation of Gypsies & Travellers into the majority “White” code, serve to Whitewash these ethnicities into the wider population and seek to render them invisible as communities that need specific support and investment.

Ethnicity facts and figures: Gypsy, Roma and Irish Traveller ethnic group - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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