Race Equality Matters is pleased to announce that Sussex Police have been awarded Bronze Trailblazer status!


Despite challenges, Sussex Police’s “strong commitment to action and to evolving culture” has helped them achieve Bronze Trailblazer status, which 85% of judges voted for them to receive. Through ensuring ethnically diverse colleagues have been involved in decision making, Sussex Police have led by example as a force striving to make positive changes in their sector.


Actions and initiatives


Appointment of new posts


In 2022, they appointed an Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) for Trust and Legitimacy, and a Race and Inclusion Portfolio Sergeant. Recognising that policing had been unsuccessful in addressing its difficulties with race in over 40 years, the ACO was recruited from outside policing and the role was filled by a charity executive with no prior experience of policing. The role of Race and Inclusion Portfolio Sergeant is the first role in Diversity to be held by an officer rather than staff. They support and facilitate the existing external Race Advisory Group, Race Champion, and Race Equality Network. Other additions include an Insights board and Race Equality Advocates.


Collecting and publishing internal workforce diversity data


Sussex Police have already won awards for its data analysis technology used for their external data collection, which they hope to replicate internally as there are currently too few options available to choose from. However, their external data collected through crime, victim satisfaction, and vehicle stop reports have been praised – including consistently by our judges – as extensive, transparent and proving accountability. They also complement the national “Our Black Workforce” survey by launching a survey on the lived experience of their ethnically diverse workforce. Additionally, they participated in the “Safe to Say” campaign to address concerns of the recording of data and encourage employees to update their data, with 80% of employees updating their records.

Improved processes


Changes or improvements to processes and policies include anonymising that job application process, ensuring all policies undergo an equality review by the Diversity manager in collaboration with the staff networks including Race Equality Network, and re-commissioning “PALS” (Professional Action Learning Sets), a development programme for Black and ethnically diverse officers and staff that is led by an executive coach. This programme also includes reverse mentoring. They also introduced a specific question to the promotion process for officers to demonstrate how they have taken race into account in the course of their duties. If their answer is not of a passing grade they cannot be promoted. This introduction of anti-racist recruitment was mentioned positively and called “particularly hopeful” by some of the judges.



Some of the events Sussex Police have put on to help promote race equality within the workforce include a monthly meeting between Diversity and Communications to ensure positive stories of leaders from diverse backgrounds are provided at a constant rate, a mandated annual event “Let’s Talk About Race”, which is delivered to all teams by their supervisors, as well as events celebrating dates such as Black History Month.


Impact and Ethnically diverse Staff Endorsement


Sussex Police made good leeway to make sure ethnically diverse staff were involved, included and positively impacted. Results include:


  • The Race Action Plan has been well received by the external Race Advisory Group who have praised the efforts and speed in introducing change
  • Input from ethnically diverse colleagues through the development of the plan has been sourced through both formal and informal routes
  • A considerable and vocal group have been exceptionally positive and have engaged with and promoted the changes across the organisation
  • Diverse feedback is sourced qualitatively through the Race Advisory Group, Race Working Group, and Insights boards, and quantitatively through workforce surveys
  • Ethnically diverse staff are also represented at all key meetings by the Race Equality Network and Race Working Group
  • Feedback from ethnically diverse colleagues on progress and change has been sought throughout the process, including in person feedback at events, high level surveys, and quick polls
  • Black and ethnically diverse officers have increased from 2.8% (2019) to 3.7% (2022) and increased at Sergeant and Superintendent levels too
  • Sussex Police show keen desire to help remove disadvantages Black and ethnically diverse staff face and actions show they have tried to do this with ethnically diverse staff and officers not to them, though they found some were not keen to participate for various reasons. Judges were sympathetic to this challenge and fed back ideas of how this could be done


Feedback from an Ethnically Diverse Panel


Our Trailblazer judges liked that Sussex Police acknowledged the barriers they still faced yet were committed to continue trying to turn things around, especially when there was resistance from some ethnic minority staff and currently little public knowledge of the work they are doing. This showed that the potential for Sussex Police to ensure this race equality work is an ongoing journey was being taken seriously. One said “the actions listed show steps in the right – and therefore positive – direction.”


As mentioned, the judges praised the changes made to the recruitment and promotion process, but wondered how this would impact staff hired or promoted before they were implemented. One panellist, however, did say it was “good to see the acknowledgement that there were differences in opinions amongst Black staff with some not wanting to have the spotlight shone on them.” And another called their application “very thorough” with “several initiatives feeding into the overall action plan.”


Next Steps…


In terms of the future and continuing to tackle race inequality, Sussex Police have said:


  • The structures, data scoping, and processes that have been introduced will continue
  • They have developed and “anti-racism vision” and “anti-racism pledge”, in collaboration with the Race Equality Network, Race Working Group, and external Race Advisory Group, which commits all officers and staff to implementing anti-racism in their normal ways of working, and set the expectations of what that will look like at each rank. They hope this will be accepted by the Joint Chief Officers and formally adopted within months
  • A new, revised national police Race Action Plan has been published and they are currently in the process of integrating and adapting their local Race Action Plan to fit


Follow Sussex Police’s Lead: Become a Trailblazer

If your organisation is driving change for Race Equality and you can demonstrate impact, endorsement from ethnically diverse employees and share future plans; register your interest for the next round of Trailblazers.

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