Leicestershire PCC bans staff from contacting BLM groups

The newly-elected police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Leicestershire has banned his staff from communicating with Black Lives Matter groups.

Jul 10, 2021
By Tony Thompson
PCC Rupert Matthews

In a diary-style article written for the website ConservativeHome, Rupert Matthews recalled the events on his third day in office when he read an agenda for an afternoon meeting.

“Police recruitment figures, forthcoming grant decisions, meetings with Black Lives Matter. Hang on. Why are we meeting an organisation that wants to defund the police, has put police officers in hospital, and desecrated the Cenotaph in London?

“Come the meeting, I have a dozen or so faces looking at me from the Teams screen. “Any other business?”. “Yes,” I say. “As of now this organisation will have absolutely no contact at all with Black Lives Matter.” There is a deathly silence. Meeting over, the screen goes blank.

Mr Matthews, a Conservative, was elected as PCC for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland in May, taking the role from Labour’s Willy Bach, who had held the position since 2016.

The ban applies to staff in his offices only and not the wider police force.

Sharmen Rahman, a Labour councillor in Leicester, told The Guardian: “It is extraordinary from somebody who’s meant to be the PCC for the entire Leicestershire area. But it’s not extraordinary when you consider it is a Conservative PCC, and the precedent the Conservative Party have set when it comes to race and race relations.” She added that she was not sure what the ban would mean in practice, as Leicester did not have a local BLM organisation.

A spokesperson for the Leicestershire PCC said: “I can confirm that Mr Matthews directed his staff to have no contact with the Black Lives Matter organisation – BLM UK – for the reasons outlined in his blog. For clarity, the organisation is not the same as the Black Lives Matter movement, something he has previously supported and on which his stance is unchanged.”

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