Policing is about putting people first; our values and approach commit us to a service of a consistently high quality. Key components of that service are that it is accessible, responsive and visible and treats people with fairness, respect and dignity.
The delivery of a quality service is our first and foremost priority. We are in the process of transforming many of the services we provide, and we want to make sure that what we do meets the needs of our different customers.
The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED)
The PSED came into force on 5 April 2011. It is fundamental to the Equality Act and ensures that all public bodies "play their part in making society fairer by tackling discrimination and providing equality of opportunity for all".
The PSED has three aims. It requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to:
- eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act;
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it; and
- Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.
The PSED requires us to consider the needs of all individuals - in shaping policy, in designing and delivering services, and in relation to our workforce.
It supports good decision-making by encouraging us to understand how different people will be affected by our activities so that policies and services are appropriate and accessible to all and meet different people's needs. By understanding the effect of our activities on different people, and how inclusive services can support and open up people's opportunities, we are better placed to deliver policies and services that are efficient and effective. The PSED therefore helps us to deliver the Government's overall objectives for public services and our aim to have a police force fit for the future.
The PSED covers the following protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Race (this includes ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality)
- Religion or belief (this includes lack of belief)
- Sex (gender)
- Sexual orientation
It also applies to marriage and civil partnership, but only in respect of the requirement to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination.
What does 'due regard' mean?
It means consciously thinking about the three aims of the Equality Duty as part of the decision-making process. Consideration of equality issues must influence our decisions - such as in how we act as employers; how we develop, evaluate and review policy; how we design, deliver and evaluate services, and how we commission and procure from others.
Having due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity involves considering the need to:
- remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics;
- meet the needs of people with protected characteristics; and
- encourage people with protected characteristics to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is low.
Having due regard to fostering good relations involves tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people who share a protected characteristic and others.
Complying with the Equality Duty may involve treating some people better than others, as far as this is allowed by discrimination law. For example, it may involve making use of an exception or the positive action provisions in order to provide a service in a way which is appropriate for people who share a protected characteristic.
The PSED and decision-making
We need to consciously (but proportionately) think about the three aims of the PSED as part of the process of decision-making. The PSED will be one of a number of factors that need to be considered. Its weight, compared to the other factors, will depend on how much that function affects discrimination, equality of opportunity and good relations and the extent of any disadvantage that needs to be addressed.