Leaked Letter Sheds Light on Police Language Row

A letter response has been leaked to the Celtic League from a member of staff at Devon and Cornwall Police, who had written in complaint about the removal of the Cornish language signs at Camborne police station last year.

The letter – from the Head of the Equality and Diversity Unit of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary – says that:

“I need to be clear that no advice was sought from my office prior to the translation being made, nor was it sought prior to the sign being removed.”

However, the letter does go on to state that advice was sought following the removal of the signs and the Equality and Diversity Unit had given information regarding `the legal standing [of the Force] under Equality duties.” Interestingly, the Unit said in their letter that there is no policy that signs in Kernewek should or should not be displayed and the “issue is transient” and will be “monitored”.

The Celtic League has been in contact with a local Councillor who has taken an interest in the matter and it looks likely that the issue will continue for some time yet.

The full text of the letter from the Equality and Diversity Unit can be found below.

“Juliet Simmons
Equality and Diversity Unit
Devon and Cornwall Police HQ
Exeter EX2 7hQ

8th December 2010

Dear

I am writing in response to your letter dated 12th November 2010, which had been forwarded to my office.

I hope that my response will help to explain some of the issues regarding the matter of the provision of signs and information in Kernewek. It has to be said that there is in fact no policy in place regarding the translation of force sign/information. The principle which should be considered, before undertaking any translation, is that translations should be based upon identified need. This identified need is that a substantial barrier to the access of policing services or information would exist if the translation was not provided.

It is fully accepted that Kernewek has been recognised under the charter you mention, however it is also the case that the UK Government of the day, in response to the same framework, did not recognise Cornish as an ethnicity, preferring to leave it to the courts to make a stated case which would then be binding. This stated case has not been made, though I know that Cornwall County Council and other interested parties are keen to promote the Cornish Culture. However, it is understood that at this moment in time Kernewek is neither an `only’ or `first language’ and as such the lack of translation would not present a significant barrier to those who identify themselves as being Cornish.

This leads onto the main issue in your letter. I need to be clear that no advice was sought from my office prior to the translation being made, nor was it sought prior to the sign being removed. I cannot therefore comment on the circumstances you describe in your letter. However, advice was sought following the removal of the signs, and the advice given was in line with the principle mentioned above. Also, information was given regarding the legal standing under Equality duties in so far comment on how this was communicated to you but there is no policy that signs in Kernewek should or should not be displayed.

Again, unfortunately, no comment can be made as to CPS and other police documents have bee translated into Kernewek, as no advice was sought from my office regarding the issue of need.

I am sure that you would recognise that in these financially stringent times, decisions have to be made around what can or cannot be done, and whilst I accept that you feel that this was cost neutral, the issue of replicating this across the Force, or even just Cornwall, has to be considered.

On occasion advice is sought from this office as to obtaining a view on whether or not something fits with the criteria mentioned above and in this case, a decision was made that the translation of signs into Kernewk did not fit the criteria. This was the advice given to both Insp Bolt and Supt Orpe.

I recognise that this may not be the answer you were hoping to receive, though it is accepted that this issue is transient, and so I wish to assure you that it will continue to be monitored.

Juliet Simmons

Head of Equality and Diversity”

This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:

Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884

M: 0044(0)7787318666
gensec@celticleague.net

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League

22/01/11

Share this!
Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Youtube
Contact us