Police should be allowed to ‘take the knee’ at demos, says Herts PCC

The PCC praised the force's handling of the demonstrations earlier this year

Monday, 21st September 2020, 12:01 pm
Updated Monday, 21st September 2020, 12:04 pm

Hertfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has indicated that officers SHOULD be allowed to ‘take the knee’ to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Over the summer there were a number of Black Lives Matters demonstrations in the county, where some on-duty officers were spotted ‘taking the knee’.

The practice has been allowed by police chiefs in Hertfordshire, although they acknowledge that “in some operational situations it is not appropriate”.

Hertfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd

And at a meeting of the county council’s community safety and waste management cabinet panel on Thursday, September 17, Mr Lloyd praised the force’s handling of the demonstrations.

He said ‘taking the knee’ was an act of solidarity, which he likened to the flying of the LGBTQ flag from police buildings.

He recognised it was “a difficult area” and that there had been ‘questions’. But he said he thought chief constable Charlie Hall had “called it right”.

And he said if, “. . . an officer particularly wishes to show solidarity in taking the knee, I look on that as being solidarity around one of the protected groups in the same way as flying the LGBTQ flag from our buildings.

“And it’s something I think he has got right, but I recognise is a very very difficult area.”

Commenting of the position taken by the Hertfordshire Constabulary after the meeting, Assistant Chief Constable Bill Jephson said the force neither encourages nor discourages officers from ‘taking the knee’.

“We continue to work closely with all of our communities, striving to deliver fair and proportionate policing for everyone and we do not support any particular political view or group,” he said.

“We do however, recognise the need to tackle racism and injustice in any form.

“As a police service we will continue to apply the law with impartiality.

“The act of taking the knee will mean different things to different people.

“There are many within the police and the community who have chosen to take part in this symbolic act as a mark of sadness or anger about the way that George Floyd lost his life, or to take a stand generally against racism, prejudice or crimes motivated by hate.

“As such the force neither encourages nor discourages officers from taking the knee, but directs that in some operational situations it is not appropriate.

“As with many aspects of policing we will keep our position under review.”

Meanwhile at the cabinet meeting Cllr Morris Bright – who is also leader of Hertsmere Borough Council – praised the “sensitive” approach taken by the force in policing the Black Lives Matters demonstrations.

He acknowledged that they were held at a time during lockdown when some were questioning whether so many people should be out together.

But he said the chief constable had been sensitive to the concerns that people were raising and that that was commended.