Scottish Court Service (SCS)
Community involvement in EQIA of Security Policy *
As a result of a meeting between CEMVO and senior SCS staff to discuss progress on mainstreaming race equality, the issue of Sikhs entering courts in Scotland whilst in possession of the Kirpan6 was identified as an unresolved concern. It was agreed that the impact of the current security policy on members of the Sikh community needed to be fully assessed.
CEMVO provided further written evidence on the issue and agreed to facilitate a national community consultation event to ensure that a diverse range of community voices, including women and young people, was heard. CEMVO communicated regularly prior to the event with both community representatives and SCS staff in order to reassure, inform and guide. This meant that initial concerns and barriers were ironed out before the event, allowing for more time to be given to collaboration and consensus building rather than on personal agendas or historical grievances.
The issue was of direct relevance to the community and so quickly generated considerable interest. The event itself was held in the evening and hosted by a local Gurdwara. SCS were advised in advance about good practice in relation to covering expenses for venue/catering and also about the protocol when visiting the Gurdwara. CEMVO staff facilitated in order to ensure objectivity and safety in airing occasionally opposing views. In addition, an EHRC representative was asked to attend to provide background from a legal perspective. An open and informative debate took place and then participants were asked to focus on practical suggestions for improvement. Ideas and solutions for overcoming negative impact were recorded and it was agreed that a small working group involving key members of the Sikh community in partnership with SCS staff would take these forward.
Innovative changes subsequently approved by the Lord President, fed back by CEMVO to the wider community and currently being implemented by SCS staff. Progress to be reviewed.
* Briefing 2: Involving ethnic minority communities in Equality Impact Assessments, Equality Act 2010, CEMVO Scotland