THE man with the job of holding police to account in Warwickshire has blasted the events that led to the death of George Floyd in the USA.
The county’s police and crime commissioner Philip Seccombe has spoken of his “shock and anger” at the horrific incident in Minneapolis, in which the black 46-year-old died while a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as he told them: “I can’t breathe.”
The death has sparked protests all over the world under the banner #BlackLivesMatter – including a march by veteran campaigners Patricia Karlsen, 85, and Liz Hodgkin, 79, in Shipston and Ilmington earlier this week.
Mr Seccombe said: “I share the shock and anger felt by all right-minded people over the death of George Floyd in the USA. The video of his arrest and the scenes that have followed make for extremely distressing viewing. Put simply, this was a death which should not have occurred and justice must be served.
“I want to echo the heartfelt sympathies that have been expressed from around the world to Mr Floyd’s family and loved ones and also to acknowledge the impact that incidents like this have on communities far and wide, including here in Warwickshire.
“Incidents like the death of Mr Floyd give rise to fundamental questions about how we, as a society, value the lives of those around us and whether all that can be done to improve matters is being done. It causes us to acknowledge that racism and inequality continue to persist.
“As police and crime commissioner, part of my role is to ensure that people’s voices are both heard and represented here in Warwickshire. I want to use my position to drive forward progress on getting equal access to opportunity, regardless of ethnicity or background.
“I have an important role in holding the police to account and providing independent scrutiny on areas of practice that cause community concern. It’s important that the public have confidence in policing and so I have regularly asked questions around stop-and-search and over the use of force, to seek reassurance that it is being carried out in a way that is both appropriate and proportionate.”
Mr Seccombe said more needed to be done to build public confidence, adding: “I want to ensure that Warwickshire Police is truly representative of all those it serves. Although we do have officers and staff from a diverse range of backgrounds, we need to increase their numbers further.
“Change will not be easy or instant. However, I do want to ensure that through a collective effort, we create a safer and more secure Warwickshire for all of our communities and that is something I will continue to work hard for.”