expert jury; Do trainee police need minority placements?

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The Independent Online
Should South Yorkshire police send their trainee officers to stay with minorities for the weekend, to break down barriers?

Darcus Howe (right)

Black broadcaster and writer

Well, it's certainly an innovative idea. Twenty years ago I was threatened with prosecution for criminal libel for referring to police officers as racists, and now the phrase is in everyday usage.

I wouldn't have them in my own house, though. They'll have to find some other way of knowing me than coming and sleeping in my bed. Opening my door and letting them sleep under my duvet? Man, that's a bit much. He might leave with my wife or my daughter. But I really do wish them the best.

David Allison

Spokesperson for Out!Rage

I would have no objection personally, to having an officer stay in my home. The idea, I must admit, has never crossed my mind before - I don't think I've ever had a police officer to stay, and it's quite an original thought. But we are all human, and I'm sure if he had reasonable social skills we could find something to talk about - the weather, probably.

They are people just like anyone else, I suppose. I wouldn't go as far as to say I'd be delighted to have one in my home, but we must all suffer for our causes, so to speak.

Belinda Canham

Spokesperson for disabled group Scope

By spending time with disabled people and their families, South Yorkshire's trainee police will see that, in many respects, disabled people's lives are no different from anyone else's.

One of the most depressing findings from Scope's recent research was how frequently disabled people are stared at in the street, ignored, verbally abused and refused services. This scheme is a positive step towards 'demystifying' disability, and will go some way towards making new police recruits more aware of the needs of disabled people in the community, and of the attitudes of other people who treat disabled people negatively.

Jeremy Joseph

Gay DJ and host to Barrymore's recent "coming out"

Anything that is done by the police to help them understand other minorities can only be of benefit. But this house business - I'm not sure it's the right approach. Would it be like one of those foreign exchange things - he'd stay at ours one week, and we'd spend the next weekend at his? It seems to be a bit weird to send him into our home - unless he's going to clean it, of course, which would be lovely.

I'd definitely have an officer to stay, as long as he was really homophobic. But what if they send officers to a total arsehole, who doesn't do our image any good at all?

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