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The Leicestershire Police team strives to be as diverse as the communities across our city and two counties.
Our officers and staff come from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and beliefs – speaking more than 20 different languages.
We value these differences and are proud to support them through our networks, groups and organisations. They represent what is important to our people both at work and in their wider communities.
The lives of our workforce outside of the police family form a huge part of their identities and what they bring to the workplace. They also complement and support the work we do as a police force.
We have nine different support networks – open to officers and staff of all ranks and roles.
They are - Adoption and Fostering, the Black Police Association (BPA), the Disability Support Network (DSA), LGBT+ and WIN, the Women’s Inclusive Network. There are four different faith networks too - Christianity, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh.
Our networks are ever evolving, the Christian Police Association was established back in 1883 and our newest network, Adoption and Fostering, has been created within the last year.
To our knowledge, Leicestershire Police is currently the only force in the UK to have a network dedicated to supporting staff either going through or thinking of adopting or fostering.
Sergeant Chris Gorman and Inspector Siobhán Gorman set up the network after adopting their child. Since going through their own personal journey, they decided it would be valuable to others if a specialised network was set up.
Siobhán and Chris said: “Adoption and fostering is about big life decisions and having a network that can offer support is of great benefit for the wellbeing of staff. Having been through the process ourselves we know the stresses and strains it can place on people.
“We recognised that there are people within our organisation who may need this confidential and unofficial support from others who understand.”
Community relationships are an integral part of policing and our network members work hard to be part of their local communities often lending a hand during cultural events and supporting charitable causes.
There has been a marked increase nationally in community spirit in recent months due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Locally our networks have helped efforts in a variety of different ways including the preparation and distribution of food to vulnerable people.
Having a large number of staff networks provides the opportunity to engage with several cultural celebrations which are supported by the force.
These range from Interfaith Week, International Women’s Day, LGBT+ History Month, Black History Month and World Autism Day, through to Christmas, Easter, Vaisakhi, Ramadan, Eid, and Diwali.
The networks also support the organising of our keeping in touch (KIT) events. Held twice a year for new parents, the days are run as an opportunity for returning parents to find out as much information as possible about matters such as flexible working, wellbeing and finance.
These days have proved so popular and invaluable that the force recently won a prestigious accolade from the national police wellbeing service Oscar Kilo.
It was also thanks to the hard work of our LGBT+ team, along with staff from our Diversity and Inclusion Unit that the force was recently ranked on the Stonewall 2020 Top 100 Employers list.
Across all networks inclusivity is a theme they represent and promote which is strengthened by the force.
The force’s multi-faith rooms are available in our police buildings any time - day or night, for people to pray or have a quiet moment of contemplation. As officers in particular work varying shift patterns the rooms were set up in 2005 for people to use as their places of worship may not be open when they are not on duty.
All of the work that is carried out by the networks is voluntary, yet it is impactful and makes a big difference in ensuring inclusivity within the force.
Head of the forces Diversity and Inclusion unit, Lynne Woodward, said: “The networks are an essential part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“They provide advice, insight and support to ensure all officers, staff and volunteers can be valued and be themselves at work.
“They also work and contribute to ensuring the organisation is always looking to improve and advance equality of opportunity both within, as well as externally in the work with different communities.
“The networks work together, whilst retaining their individuality and uniqueness, displaying diversity and inclusion at its best.”