Essex: Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month
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“We are developing better relationships with every community in Essex – regardless of their beliefs, their background or their way of life”
That’s the message from the Essex Police Chief Constable at the start of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month.
Chief Constable BJ Harrington was speaking as colleagues raised the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller flag today, Wednesday 2 June.
He was joined by PC Kate West, co-chair of the National Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) Police Association, Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan who leads Local Policing in Essex, Superintendent Shaun Kane - Head of the Local Policing Support Unit, Neil Woodbridge – Chair of the Countywide Independent Advisory Group which represents local views to the force.
The history month was established in Britain in 2008 to mark the contribution the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community has made to society and to challenge negative and unfair stereotypes.
Also attending was Essex PC Chelle Buckley, who is of Romany Gypsy heritage and who has worked for Essex Police since 2011.
To help build trust and stronger relationships with local Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, the Essex Police Rural Engagement Team has been patrolling the county, visiting a number of locations to give advice about issues which can affect people in all walks of life including domestic abuse and animal welfare.
Speaking at the event, Chief Constable Harrington said:
“We are committed to protecting and serving everyone who lives in our county.
“The Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community have a long history in Essex and strong sense of identity. We police by consent. It’s vital we have positive relationships with everyone who lives in or who visits Essex.
“Increasing our understanding and appreciation of every culture will help us make Essex an even safer place.
“Members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community can often be victims of crime and discrimination, but can be reluctant to contact us. We want everyone to know that we are here to help them and keep them safe.”
PC Chelle Buckley believes that negative stories damage the public’s perceptions of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community but hopes history month can help redress the balance.
She said: “It’s great that the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community are being recognised. I’m really proud of who I am, and I hope that moments like today will be well received. Attitudes are changing slowly but there’s a still a lot to do.
“Once people start to understand our background and value those differences, it will be better.”
Do you want to have your say about local policing and tell us what the important issues are in your community? We’re looking for people from every walk of life to join our Independent Advisory Groups.