England

Devon and Cornwall Police plan diversity officer cut

Devon and Cornwall Police are considering scrapping specialist diversity officers.

For the last few years, the team of seven specialist officers has been working with minority groups.

The force is considering giving the work to neighbourhood policing teams instead. A consultation was under way until 9 December, police said.

The move has been criticised by minority groups, which said it could lead to increases in hate crimes.

Jill Singh, from the Highbury Trust in Plymouth, which works with adults with learning disabilities, said that the loss of knowledge by police was another concern for minority groups.

She said: "If you lose known officers, are they going to have a time for an adequate handover? Are they [other officers] going to know where our groups are?

"I honestly think they are not going to have the time to do that effectively."

The force said that, if approved, diversity work of local policing teams would be supervised by a team of specially-trained sergeants.

However, sergeants would still have other duties and would not be working exclusively on diversity issues.

Juliet Symons, head of the force's Equality and Diversity Unit, said: "The diversity officers have been very successful.

"We are now hoping to connect those groups with local policing teams so people can get that quality of service in the area that they live."

Ch Supt Andy Bickley of Devon and Cornwall Police said: "It's very clear that the communities are very passionate about the service they have had. We're not looking to undermine that in any way.

"We are in a process of consultation.

"We have developed, particularly in Plymouth, a very strong team of hate crime detectives that are supporting the work of our other teams in the city."

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