'Unfair to compare US and UK' on race issues says top South Yorkshire police officer
A senior South Yorkshire Police officer has said the conversation has been ‘unfairly conflated’ when comparing problems with race relations within forces in the UK and US.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts told a South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner public accountability board meeting there had been some ‘casual language’ in comparing how police officers respond to incidents in respected countries.
The comments come in the wake of the death of black US citizen George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer who knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
The death sparked protests across the global including peaceful demonstrations in Sheffield and Doncaster.
Mr Roberts said the force could not be complacent on issues that arise and admitted the killing of Mr Floyd in this manner ‘won’t help’ the recruitment of BAME officers into the force.
He said: “At the moment we can all understand the concerns around the events in America.
“I do think there is some quite casual language where events over there are transposed to events over here.
“That’s not being complacent at all, we’re aware of the issues police here have had, although on a completely different degree I would stress over those in America over the years.
“However, I think things have been unfairly conflated in terms of police in this country, which I think have recognised issues and taken great strides to ensure we are viewed fairly and in a positive light by everyone in the country.
“The discourse won’t help, but we’ve got to re-emphasis the positive steps that we’ve taken in this country with policing by consent and you don’t get that legitimacy without being fair to all members of the community.”
Dr Alan Billings, commissioner, said the force had handled the pressures of policing peaceful demonstrations in South Yorkshire very well.
He said: “I think South Yorkshire Police have handled a difficult situation well and think it’s been done in a measured way and the public as a whole understands the difficulties it posed for officers.
“We’ve not had lots of responses from the public which would suggest anything else, but clearly if these protests continue, this gets more difficult for the police."