18th April 2021

Llanelli Online News

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Crime panel offended by ‘too old, white, male and straight’ claims

A POLICE and crime panel has responded to a claim that it is too old, white, male and straight to reflect the general population.

Members of the Dyfed-Powys police and crime panel are writing a letter to the person who made the claim, with the chairman admitting that some members were offended.

The panel consists of 12 councillors from Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Powys and Pembrokeshire and two co-opted members.

Their job is to advise and scrutinise the work of the elected police and crime commissioner, who in turn appoints and holds the chief constable — and force — to account.

The person who submitted the written question to the panel said they were “shocked” there was only one “older white woman” serving on it, with the rest “older white men.”

Such a panel, claimed the questioner, could exhibit “unconscious bias” against certain groups which could contribute to “poor decision-making and discrimination.”

“Could a system be put in place to ensure that the panel is more representative of our society?” said the questioner. Such a system, said the person, should ensure more younger women served on the panel, plus representatives from the black and minority ethnic and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

“Why was it decided that the panel should be made up of county councillors, because these are overwhelmingly retired, white straight older males,” said the questioner.

Panel chairman Alun Lloyd Jones explained there were Home Office regulations about the composition of panels, including that they must be politically balanced and, as far as possible, gender balanced and reflective of the area they cover. He said the make-up of the Dyfed-Powys police and crime panel, in reality, reflected the elected make-up of the four constituent authorities.

“The panel only has a say on co-opted members,” he said, adding that just two out of eight applications for the co-opted posts were from women in 2016.

Cllr Jones said the four councils would be reminded after the next police and crime commissioner elections about the importance of trying to reflect the diversity of their communities.

He said he didn’t really like being called “past it” — joking that he got enough of that from his son — and added: “Some of us have been offended by this.”

Councillor Stephen Joseph said he was registered disabled and that some of the panel could be gay, but there weren’t “badges” to indicate this.

Co-opted member Helen Thomas said it was good that a letter would be sent to the questioner explaining the rules and regulations.

“I am not surprised that we have received these observations, and I can appreciate some of the concerns,” she said.

“But we probably ought to note the saying, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.” She said she was sure there was no evidence of unconscious bias or discrimination in the panel’s work.

She added: “I feel sure that all members bring a wealth of experience to meetings.”

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