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Building the picture of who we are

President Paul Griffiths discusses work underway towards a detailed understanding of our membership:

Last year, I issued a blog asking the question as to whether we truly understand our people.
This issue is one that has continued to dominate much of my thinking around our association, and also the wider police workforce.

Whilst numbers and data are only a small part of the picture, we have progressed a major piece of work to start this process of better understanding. 
Earlier this year, we launched a new membership database, designed to help us access and understand our association’s data in an improved way. One of the parts of these processes was to reach out to our members and to ask them to provide personal information.
We did not underestimate the sensitivity with which these questions should be asked and how it would be received. We wanted to give members the confidence to share this with us, by helping them understand why we were asking.

Our Service has a national problem when it comes to understanding our people.  The quality and consistency of workforce data varies significantly across forces and many people have either never been asked about themselves, have not been asked the right questions or have never been asked them in the right way.
We wanted to change this.  So, we explained to our members why we were asking these personal questions, on matters such as their gender, their ethnic background, whether they consider themselves to be disabled, what their skills and qualifications were, and reassured them of the legitimacy for these questions.
We would never ask these questions simply to acquire data.  In fact, the rich information we have now gathered serves as a valuable picture of the incredible difference and diversity within our members, who are policing’s most senior operational leaders.
This data, which will be held securely and used in the most sensitive of ways, will now inform the important work we do to represent our members, to support their best interests, to provide welfare and wellbeing support and to influence positive change right across policing.

By asking these questions, and doing so in the right way, the ‘face’ of our membership as we know it has significantly changed. Two years ago, our figures showed that less than 1.5% of our members were disabled.  Now, figures show 5.5% of members consider themselves to have a disability.
Two years ago, just over 3% of our members told us they were part of the LGBT+ community, now over 6% have told us this. 
This is just the start of work that will help us provide tailored support to the officers we represent.
Numbers are a very small part of the picture. Each one of us is a wonderful mix of experience, personality and biology, that doesn’t fit into a ‘category’. Now, it’s important for us to build on this with conversation, discussion and real listening, so that we hear the matters affecting our people and build services that are truly reflective.