Chief Constable Richard Lewis has highlighted the moral duty of people to promote the use of the Welsh language.
Mr. Lewis joined Cleveland Police from Dyfed-Powys in 2019, and as a native Welsh speaker he writes of his new found perspective on the language having lived in England for almost two years.
He calls for more to be done to promote the use of Welsh above the statutory duty, suggesting that it should be an integral part of the service provided to people and not an added extra for which Welsh speakers should be grateful.
Chief Constable Lewis writes:
“As I’ve previously worked at the highest level in public services in Wales, it is true that I used to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Whilst I served in Wales as a police officer it became too easy to simply focus on my legal responsibilities and to forget about my moral responsibilities to promote the use of the Welsh language.
“The statutory need to provide a bilingual service is all important but in my opinion, the moral imperative is even more so.
“It is a relatively easy task to measure some services such as the time it takes to answer a call in Welsh and English. However, far more important are the things which are more difficult if not impossible to measure such as the impact on a family in receiving a death message through their first language or the ability to state an opinion or make a complaint through the medium of Welsh. Many people simply express themselves more clearly through their first language.”
“The Welsh Government’s aim of having a million Welsh speakers by 2050 is worthy and one I fully support but it is not through the publication of a policy or strategy that this will be achieved. It is achieved through the dedicated efforts of institutions to promote the language. It should not be done simply because aims are backed by laws but because a moral imperative on all of us to do so.
“Improving the quality of Welsh language provision means employing Welsh speakers, providing the supportive conditions for learners and importantly the understanding of staff on why the language preferences of community members are so important.”