Emergency services could be even more inclusive, says one of Scotland’s first black police officers


A founding member of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board and one of the first black police officers in Stirling – and Scotland – said more needs to be done to make the Scottish emergency service “really diverse”.

Robin Iffla (photo) has served communities in Scotland for over 40 years.

Son of Jamaican cricketer Irvin who came to Scotland in 1951 to play for County Stirling, Robin joined Central Scotland Police in 1978 – and was the only black person out of over 1,100 recruits and staff .

Robin, who obtained an MBE in 2017, will pursue a 27-year career in law enforcement, before joining the SFRS Board of Directors in 2012.

And while he believes organizations have come a long way since the 1970s, he says there is still a lot to be done to ensure that public services like SFRS truly represent the communities they serve.

Robin spoke about his own experiences to mark Black History Month. Launched on October 1 with the 2021 theme ‘Proud To Be’, the campaign calls on black people and ethnic minorities around the world to speak up why they are proud to be who they are and to celebrate their contributions to their communities and to society. company.

He said: “There was a distinct feeling of being different. I had very supportive colleagues, but others less so, and it could be difficult with members of the public.

“Today there are many more black and ethnic minority staff in SFRS and public organizations, but there is still a long way to go to truly represent the diversity of people in Scotland. “

During his tenure on the SFRS Board of Directors, Robin became the Diversity Champion and worked to embed inclusion, equality and equity in the service. He was also instrumental in organizing the Asian Fire Service Association conference in Scotland for the first time.

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Robin’s father, Irvin, arrived in Scotland in 1951 on a one-year contract to play professional cricket for County Stirling – and never left. A decorated player, he was named Freeman of the City of Stirling in 2009.

Robin was born in Stirling and started working with the local authority in 1974. When he joined Central Scotland Police in 1978, he was not only their first black policeman, but their only black policeman during the 21 following years.

He is still heavily involved with Semper Scotland, an association that supports and represents all ethnic minority police and staff on issues of equality and race. He was the first president of the organization and is currently its president.

Robin said: “There is more diversity in the population and in the workplace, but some organizations need to do more to increase the diversity of their workforce. We are a multicultural country and with our demographics we should embrace diversity.

“We are not only a multicultural but global society and people from all over the world have chosen to come here to live, visit, work and invest in Scotland.”

Speaking about what makes him “proud to be,” Robin said, “I am proud to have been part of the organization that laid the foundation for the future of SFRS. I am proud to be the son of a famous Jamaican cricketer who came here in 1951 and, according to many, transformed the sport.

“I am proud to have served the public for more years than I can remember, to be Lord Deputy Lieutenant for Stirling and Falkirk, to be someone who tries to make a difference for equality, diversity and inclusion.

“I am proud to be a husband and parent of two grown children, and I am proud to be a Black Scotsman.”

Liz Barnes is the Director of People Development and Organization for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services.

She said: “Robin’s story is truly inspiring and as a founding member of our Board of Directors his contribution and contribution to SFRS has been invaluable. I am fully committed to championing equity and inclusion, and we will continue to highlight what we do to increase the diversity of our workforce and how we can embed inclusion into our practices and services. use.

“The theme of Black History Month this year allows us to truly listen to those who have had experiences, both positive and negative, and learn from them to support our drive to be more inclusive. “

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