At a time when inclusivity and representation are gaining momentum in the UK, the need for diverse perspectives within law enforcement agencies has come to the forefront. London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is one of the world's most renowned police forces, which has come under scrutiny several times recently.
Exploring this topic and beyond, iGlobal speaks with Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Kamal Patel, a prominent figure within the London Metropolitan Police ranks, also serving as the Interim Chair of the Met Police Hindu Association (MPHA).
How has the recent review into the Met, led by Baroness Casey, impacted morale within the ranks?
The staff support associations together have spoken about the Casey Review. We all heard of the Casey review before the findings came out. We spoke about personal experiences, what it's like to be an officer from an ethnic background, working for the MPS, and hearing some real-life stories from people about what they did go through, the trauma that they suffered from their colleagues or other members of the police.
We must remember that the Casey Review found that we must work together to improve the MPS. And how we've done that is – we reached out to our members, asked them if they need support, what impact it is having on them or if it might have bought up some trauma for them from previous incidents. We've listened to them, and when needed, we reported it further.
We've done this collectively, including the Hindu association and other staff support associations. As an organisation, we haven't refuted what is being said in the Casey Review, so we must address the issues.
What are the steps being taken around diversity and inclusion?
While the Casey Review was shocking for some of our staff members, this was something already known to many others. These are things like racial abuse that they already were aware of but too afraid to report for the stigma attached to it.
Each unit within the MPS now has the responsibility to make sure that they speak to all their staff members from all backgrounds. Also, what the new Commissioner has done after finding out about the Casey Review is that he has put processes in place so officers can report anonymously. The extra level of anonymous reporting ensures officers are comfortable reporting wrongdoing without fear of repercussions.
There have been recent protests at the Met's London HQ around domestic violence; does the association engage with such issues with tailored support?
We already had Women's forums created where women from the Hindu community can speak to our member police officers about their personal experiences, and those have continued. If community members feel that they need to report something discreetly, they need to come to the Met Police Hindu Association, and we will provide support.
A number of our members are experienced in dealing with domestic abuse and are from various community backgrounds. They understand the stigma attached to our culture when it comes to reporting domestic abuse cases.
Many times expat women don't have a support network. Their support network might be the perpetrators of that domestic abuse. These women don't understand the law and legislation of this 'foreign country' and then worry that they may have to return to the country they've come from. But actually, that's not the case. So that specialist support is there.
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Please share some personal highlights from your career within the force.
I've been in that organisation for 19 years and am currently a Detective Chief Inspector. I've worked in a number of different units in my career. I've worked as a detective in the Child Abuse Investigation Team and Domestic Abuse team and currently running a team that deals with Serious assaults, domestic abuse and child abuse.
I also work alongside a team that manages those offenders that commit serious offences across London. One of my career highlights has been working in the Olympics. But also, when the London riots happened in 2011, I was on the frontline when we encountered some of the biggest incidents.
I'm born and bred here; my parents are from Gujarat, India. They moved here in 1950. But we go back to India every two years to visit family.
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What is your message to the British Indian youths considering joining the force?
People concerned about joining the organisation, perhaps from the Hindu community, I would say that this organisation has many opportunities. We have members working in frontline, counter-terrorism and various other roles. If you are hardworking and want to progress, this organisation allows you to do that.
You can also work on your degrees while working as a police officer, and the organisation supports that.
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*Info: Casey Review