COULD you represent a diverse group of people and help to influence decisions made in policing?
If so, the Dyfed-Powys Police Independent Advisory Group (IAG) would like to hear from you.
The IAG is made up of people from across Dyfed-Powys and provides an opportunity to engage, consult and discuss the impact of policing on communities in the force area.
It acts as a critical friend to the force and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), and provides a safeguard against disadvantaging any section of the community through a lack of understanding, ignorance or mistaken belief.
As we enter the new year, the group is looking for new members to add to the forum – particularly people who can represent minority groups in our communities.
Vice chairman Derek Turner has been an IAG member for nine years, joining after a career as a development worker in mental health. He said: “I have always been impressed by Dyfed-Powys Police’s willingness to learn, and the force’s responsiveness to suggestions and ideas over the years that I have been a member.
The IAG brings together people with completely different perspectives and from different backgrounds. It has been good to learn and to work with that sense of diversity, and through strong representation – and a willingness of the force to take our ideas on board – we have been able to make positive changes.
“What we need now is a boost in membership – particularly to represent minority groups in our communities who have lived experiences we can learn from and draw on.”
The IAG consists of a cross-representation of the area’s diverse communities of interest, in terms of age, gender, gender reassignment, disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, and Welsh language speakers.
The group actively encourages applications from people with lived experiences in these areas, but also recognises the expertise of people who can act as advocates.
“For a while we had a member who worked very closely with the travelling community, and they acted as a very strong advocate for them,” Mr Turner said. “Despite not being from the community herself, they did a brilliant job of opening our eyes.
“Sometimes an advocate can be more powerful as they have that area of expertise, and we would love to hear from anyone who believes they could act as an advocate for groups who are currently underrepresented.”</p>
<p style=”font-weight: 400;”>The changes the IAG has made so far are thanks to members such as Paul Saunders, a profoundly Deaf British Sign Language user who joined the group nine years ago.
He said: “I grew up as part of a strong Deaf community and culture, and have first-hand experience of the many barriers faced by Deaf people in society and with the police.
“The police need to be aware of the importance of appropriate and clear communication methods also the need to provide full access for Deaf people.
“I joined to raise awareness of the needs of the Deaf community, especially those whose first language is BSL, to improve methods of communication, accessibility and understanding of the issues and barriers faced by Deaf people.”
Encouraging people to consider joining the IAG, Mr Saunders said he has developed a mutual respect and understanding of other members’ cultures and needs.
He added: “By joining, you can help the police enhance their knowledge and understanding of the access and communication barriers for the different communities that they deal with.
“It is also a good learning experience for the members themselves, learning about each other’s issues and cultures.”
To find out more about the group, and how to apply, visit: http://bit.ly/DPPIAG