The debate final, to be held inside the prison on September 15th, will incorporate a Question Time-style panel discussion including the Green party’s Natalie Bennett; writer and broadcaster Edwina Currie; Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) board member Vicky Pryce; the Reverend Fr. Christopher Jamison director of the National Office for Vocation and Dr Ken McLaughlin, senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. The panel of judges for the final will also include leading educator, and author of the Coates Review into Prison Education, Dame Sally Coates.
Prisoners, their families, prison staff and local agencies with an interest in prison reform, education and rehabilitation will be invited to form part of the audience.
Claire Fox, founder and director of the Institute of Ideas behind the Debating Matters initiative, said:
“Perhaps ironically, this day of debates in prison was liberating for all concerned. The prisoners showed huge courage in making formal, well-researched speeches in front of their peers and happily submitted to cross-examination by high profile judges.
“What was so inspiring was watching them react to their grilling by referring to their research and developing their arguments (and confidence) as they went along.”
Prison Director at HMP Birmingham, Pete Small, said:
“Exploring how prisoners can resolve conflict in different ways should be a critical goal for everyone in the penal system. Our pilot debating initiative this summer will make an important contribution to helping better equip prisoners for a life away from crime on release, through developing listening skills and suspending judgment through debating these complex subjects.”
HMP Birmingham is one of Britain’s busiest prisons and looks after approximately 10,000 prisoners a year. It transferred to G4S management in 2011 and independent research published in 2015 said that the public service ethos of the prison had been “re-kindled” since the transfer.
Sadiq Khan has also announced a legal review to identify what further action is possible within the law, to build a more representative police service and help build trust, respect and stronger community relations between police officers and Londoners.
The passing-out parade, a traditional ceremony which marks the transition from trainee police officer to probationer, will be held for the first time on a new parade square at the refurbished and recently re-opened Hendon Training School this afternoon, Friday, 9 September.
Over the past three years, parades such as today’s, have increasingly added to the Met’s diversity and for the past three months, BME officers have been maintained above 4,000. At the end of August there were 4,033 BME officers serving London.
This is up more than 25 percent up from the 3,163 BME officers in 2013 and means that the Met has over half of all BME officers in the UK.
Last year, 28 percent of new recruits were from minority backgrounds – an increase from 16 percent on the previous year and a record in UK policing. This has been achieved through a combination of targeted recruitment, introducing a London-residency criteria and second-language recruitment campaigns.
At today’s parade, 311 new recruits, including 79 BME new recruits (just over 25 percent), were the first to march on the new parade square overlooked by the statue of the Met’s founder Sir Robert Peel, as well as their friends and family, ahead of starting their new roles as probationary constables in their assigned boroughs.
Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said: “I am proud of the significant achievements celebrated here today.
“Having over 4,000 BME officers policing the streets of London every day represents a significant milestone. More progress has been made in the last three years than at any point in recent decades. Although, we recognise there is more to do, we are very pleased with this progress.
“The passing-out parade taking place here, at our new home for police training, is also a cause for celebration. These 311 officers are at the beginning of rewarding careers and many more will follow in their footsteps. Serving London will be a privilege for them and I know they will make this city proud.”
The Commissioner has made it clear that he believes that legislative change is still needed to make faster progress in making the Met look and feel more like London.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today welcomed the Met’s efforts and success improving diversity and announced that he is now seeking fresh legal advice to see what more can be done.
Mayor Sadiq Khan, said: “This is not about tokenism, but about building trust and respect between our vital police force and all Londoners. One of the best things about London is its astounding diversity.
“But to continue to be one of the safest big cities in the world, and I want us to become even safer, we need our capital’s police force to reflect this, and to look like the communities it is charged with keeping safe. We have made some great progress, but we still have more to do. I want to find how, by seeking legal advice on our next steps, we can achieve my manifesto aim of having a Met that is as diverse as the make-up of Londoners.”
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