PO­LICE COP RAP ON WELSH LAN­GUAGE

‘Nui­sance’ claims are dis­missed

Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Gareth Hughes

A PO­LICE sergeant says some col­leagues con­sider of­fi­cers who choose to speak Welsh “a nui­sance” and that of­fi­cers who use the lan­guage fear it will dam­age their chances of pro­mo­tion.

Trys­tan Be­van says he was told English is the “cho­sen lan­guage” of the North Wales force, and that he had been urged not to use Welsh in a re­cent pro­mo­tion ap­pli­ca­tion. He says he had to point out it is il­le­gal to stop him us­ing his na­tive lan­guage for the forms, which have now been trans­lated into Welsh.

Writ­ing in the Your Voice Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion News­let­ter, the roads polic­ing of­fi­cer based at Llandy­gai, near Bangor, said that Chief Con­sta­ble Mark Polin and Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner Ar­fon Jones were sup­port­ive of of­fi­cers who wish to use Welsh dur­ing the course of their work, but that oth­ers are less so.

Sgt Be­van wrote: “It is a pity that other in­di­vid­u­als within the or­gan­i­sa­tion see the lan­guage and those who wish to work through the lan­guage as caus­ing prob­lems and a nui­sance.

“It breaks my heart that there are work­ers within the or­gan­i­sa­tion who are not aware of the rights of the Welsh or of their re­spon­si­bil­ity as work­ers to meet the needs of Welsh peo­ple.”

Sgt Be­van said he has spo­ken to sev­eral of­fi­cers who have found them­selves in the same sit­u­a­tion, and some ad­mit­ted they didn’t want to be seen as caus­ing a row. The Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tive said col­leagues who feel they are be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against be­cause they use Welsh should con­tact him.

He added: “The right to cor­re­spond, write and re­ceive cor­re­spon­dence through Welsh in the Force is a le­gal right and no-one should feel that by do­ing so their chances of pro­mo­tion would be im­paired. It is a right not a priv­i­lege.”

As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Richard De­bicki, who chairs the Force’s Welsh Lan­guage Group, said he was “dis­ap­pointed by these com­ments”, adding: “We work hard to be a bilin­gual or­gan­i­sa­tion, with Welsh in the work­place be­ing ac­tively en­cour­aged and pro­moted.

“Just last week we held a sem­i­nar for Welsh lan­guage cham­pi­ons to look at ways in which we can de­velop the use of Welsh at all lev­els force wide. Welsh is widely spo­ken within the force, we of­fer reg­u­lar Welsh lan­guage train­ing and there are many vis­i­ble re­minders en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to use Welsh at work around our build­ings.

“Any­one think­ing of join­ing North Wales Po­lice has the op­por­tu­nity to make their ap­pli­ca­tion, and be in­ter­viewed, in Welsh. Once they are part of the or­gan­i­sa­tion they will be fully sup­ported and ac­tively en­cour­aged to use Welsh.

“The im­por­tance of hav­ing bilin­gual train­ing ma­te­rial is also fully recog­nised and we make ev­ery ef­fort to en­sure that in­ter­views or tests are avail­able in Welsh.”

● CRIT­I­CAL: Sgt Trys­tan Be­van

Trys­tan Be­van

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