Community groups who help shape policing meet for national conference in Bedfordshire
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Community groups which provide independent advice and scrutiny to police forces across the country have met for their annual conference in Bedfordshire.
Some 34 police forces were represented at the National Association of Independent Advisory Groups (NAIAG) event in Luton on Wednesday (25 May).
Around 120 guests came together to discuss the work IAGs do in helping bridge the gap between policing and different communities.
Bedfordshire Police hosted last week’s event where guests heard from the likes of Chief Constable Garry Forsyth and Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye about the role IAGs can play in tackling things like discrimination and bias in policing.
The conference also heard from IAG members here in Bedfordshire around the crucial role they have played in helping the force deal with critical incidents from murders through to Covid-19.
Chief Constable Forsyth said: “To effectively fight crime and protect the public, we need independent advice which improves the accountability of policing through a transparent approach.
“Our IAG provide that invaluable service to us and make sure we consider the broadest possible picture when we make big decisions.
“It was a real honour for us to host this national event and showcase the positive, progressive work that is taking place to improve policing here in Bedfordshire.”
Commissioner Akinbusoye said: “I was humbled to welcome so many passionate people who care about policing to Bedfordshire last week.
“IAGs are a vital body of volunteers who do great work as critical friends to policing in the county as well as across the country.
“It was not lost on me that last week’s event coincided with the anniversary of the death of George Floyd and the publication of a new plan to tackle racism in policing.
“Our communities have a crucial role to play in helping us to do that and our IAGs should be absolutely central to this progress.”
Nigel Taylor, chair of the Bedfordshire South IAG, said: “It was so good to welcome IAG members from all around the country to Luton. I have long believed that Bedfordshire is the nation in microcosm and that many good qualities worked out here may be solutions for the wider nation.
"The role of the IAG is to be 'critical friends' to the police. It means keeping a diverse and critical eye in order to produce better policing. This is very often an awkward position to maintain. We mustn't just be critical or purely friendly – we've got to be both to do the best for our diverse community.
"This conference was not only an opportunity to celebrate successes but to encourage better policing nationally, especially it's interaction with diversity."
John Barlow, the chair of the NAIAG, said: “The National Association of Independent Advisory Groups was established to co-ordinate best practice across police advisory groups throughout the UK.
“NAIAG was formally inaugurated at its annual conference and AGM hosted by Bedfordshire Police in Luton with some 34 forces represented. Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs) were brought into being following the dreadful murder of Steven Lawrence more than 25 years ago.
“Bedfordshire Police was asked to sponsor this first conference as it is a beacon of best practice and we knew that other IAGs would be inspired to see how advisory groups can make a significant contribution to policing.”