Re: “Surrey Police Service launches public consultation campaign,” the Now-Leader online.
Surrey residents will perhaps be forgiven if they are skeptical of the consultation process being launched (at a combined cost of $84,700) by the Surrey Police Service, given the mess that has transpired so far.
Questions of whose voices will matter are relevant here.
It is concerning to see SPS spokesperson Ian MacDonald say that, “stakeholder interviews…will involve groups that work with women, children and vulnerable populations,” rather than people who are actually vulnerable themselves.
One is not the same as the other.
There is a phrase often used among people who are socially vulnerable, “Nothing about us without us.” More than a phrase this is really an ethics of behaviour for academics, journalists, non-profits, policymakers, and governments who would do research, write stories or develop programs and policies that impact people who are vulnerable.
It recognizes that oftentimes the priorities and commitments of, for example, housed people who run shelters or non-drug users who write drug policies, are different from the priorities and needs of the people living those experiences directly.
So, we need to ask if the SPS consultations will be “about but without” vulnerable people or will they be consulted directly and actually listened to.
Then there is MacDonald’s statement that, “there’ll be a contribution from I’m sure at least representation from businesses.”
This also raises questions given concerns about preferential access for businesses to policing that have been raised already in the police transition. The interests of businesses and homeless people are often quite different on matters of policing.
Whose voice will be heard?
Dr. Jeff Shantz, Surrey