Tensions within any community are closely monitored by the police, Local Authority and other partner agencies.
A single event may be isolated between two parties, however, depending on what the issue is, it can have a ripple effect and impact the wider community, therefore the risks are assessed at the onset and plans put in place to mitigate this.
I can think back to just over 15 years ago when the Nepalese community was establishing itself in Rushmoor and there were some misunderstandings within the local community which led to some isolated tensions.
Some people wrongly thought that local housing and other benefits were being offered. There was some talk about `gangs` and drugs etc by the younger generation.
These thoughts were harboured by a minority of local people, but nonetheless, there was a lot of work done by community leaders and partner agencies to dispel these mistruths throughout the whole community and to convey the correct situation, because in some cases, divides were noticed.
It took a lot of careful work and planning to establish ways of bringing people from all backgrounds within the community together, where it became what we see today, fully integrated, where everyone lives, works and socialises together.
We were fortunate to have a good structure within the Nepalese community where leaders were able to reach out to the whole community. We were just as fortunate to have a community willing to engage and work tirelessly to bring the community together.
What we are seeing nationally is unprecedented in the UK and the Black Lives Matters protests will test some sections within some communities.
These issues may not be so applicable here in Rushmoor, however, there have been planned protests within Hart and Rushmoor, therefore such issues are emotive everywhere. But of course, places where there are larger black and other minority groups, these communities will see the greater numbers protesting.
The protests and the way people feel, coincide with an already incredibly difficult time in our history. Covid-19 has placed a great strain on many people`s lives and there is already a pent-up frustration with some people.
Emotive issues that are demonstrated for within the Black Lives Matters protest are taking place during thiscdifficult time, therefore it is even more important for the communities throughout the country to work in partnership with agencies to make sure that tensions are identified and dealt with.
Within the police there are daily management meetings. These include community safety members from the local authority and all noteworthy incidents are discussed.
Planned protests are part of this agenda so that engagement is made early on with organisers and plans are made to allow people to peacefully protest.
Organisers are also informed what is expected from a peaceful protest and for them to convey this to attendees, which is made all that much easier now-a-days with social media.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, isolated incidents can trigger a ripple effect, therefore any hate related crime or incident is fully discussed to make sure that it is fully investigated and any wider community tensions are discussed, so that plans can be put in place to deal with these.
Again, social media is a great method of conveying messages, but officers from the Neighbourhood Policing Teams engaging with the local community to speak directly with people is equally important when required.
The protests in London and Bristol where crime has occurred has fuelled tensions in these areas, however, those present will have travelled from many other areas too.
These events are a reminder of underlying tensions that exist within the UK and the need to engage with all sections of our community and find ways of sealing any fractures that are identified.
From our local experiences we know that the work required needs to be sustained and continue until goals are met.
In the meantime, you can keep up to date with the latest government advice during COVID-19 and our advice to keep you and your family safe.
PC 1860 Mark Ranola.
Yateley Police Office.