Dignity and Diversity Training Sensitises Police Officers to Human Rights
Over the last few years, SANPUD, working with partner organisations Sisonke and Triangle Project, and funded by CoC Netherlands (the world’s oldest LGBTQI+ organisation) have been offering the South African Police Service operational officers’ sensitisation training in the form of Dignity and Diversity in Policing training.
SAPS are custodians of the training and as such it has become a national mandate to train SAPS members on how to deal with the LGBTQI+, sex worker and drug user communities, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Employee, Health and Wellness Department within the SAPS.
The training has, for the past few years been offered to operational offers but recently, the training has also been offered to senior SAPS managers.
In 2021, the SANPUD team were involved in a number of Dignity & Diversity Training sessions across the country, in person and also online (in order to keep trainings progressing during COVID lockdown measures).
In sessions in October, November and December of 2021, SANPUD team members participated in training of SAPS members in Tshwane and Cape Town, educating them about drug use, negative effects of using and harm reduction programmes.
Training in 2021 involved 123 SAPS members in Western Cape, 143 in Kwa Zulu Natal, 85 in Mpumalanga, 73 in the Free State, 29 in Eastern Cape and 40 in Gauteng.
The 2021 training sessions took place in the following locations across South Africa:
Manguang, Bloemfontein and Park Road
Kokstad, Margate, Umhlanga, Mountain View and Pietermaritzburg
Kagiso, Devon and Vanderbijlpark
King William’s Town
In 2022, trainings have continued to be rolled out in February and March, with 62 SAPS members trained in Limpopo, 34 in Northern Cape and 183 in Gauteng. These are the locations of the 2022 sessions:
- Johannesburg, Gauteng
- Tshwane, Gauteng
- Wonderboom, Gauteng
- Kimberly, Northern Cape
- Seshego, Limpopo
- Kwa-Zulu Natal
Kwa-Zulu Natal trainings are presently underway, with SANPUD Community Linkage Officer Connie Van Staden attending to these sessions.
At each of the the training sessions, SANPUD team members provided SAPS members with information on key populations and how human rights play a central role in their interactions with members of these communities.
In terms of PWUD, members of our team provided SAPS members with information on the various types of drugs that are accessible in their areas, how they are used, the consequences of using them, and the role that human rights plays a critical role in the development of harm reduction.
Dignity, Diversity and policing training forms part of the Employee Wellness programme of the SAPS, with members of that department reaching out to organisations like SANPUD to enable their members to get a greater understanding of the communities they work with, and how human rights should inform the way in which they approach interactions with these key population communities.
In creating a greater understanding of human rights, the Dignity, Diversity and Policing Training programme focuses on:
- Sensitisation of SAPS on drug use, harm reduction, sex work, gender, and sexuality
- The challenges that key populations (drug users, sex workers, LGBTQI+) face daily
- Human Rights and how key populations are treated.
As a result of the Dignity and Diversity Trainings offered to the SAPS over the last two years, 772 members of the South African Police Service have obtained a greater understanding of human rights and how they relate their interactions with members of key population communities that include but are not limited to sex workers, LGBTQI+ and drug users.
Training is ongoing, and we are gratified by feedback from SAPS members at the sessions, which includes thanks and appreciation for gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of each of the key populations and how the law and human rights play a central role in guiding interaction with them.
Having been invited to provide Dignity and Diversity Training to its members, our team continues to work with the South African Police Service, with the aim of enabling those on the front line of the law to get a clear understanding of the importance of human rights, and through this, providing a service that sees key population community members treated with dignity and respect, and without stigma and discrimination.
SANPUD would like to thank its partner organisations and funders for making thee sessions possible – and we look forward to many more.