IN the day to day churn of local politics very few things surprise. You can always be certain that we on the Labour benches will argue against austerity, the Conservatives will consistently defend the Government and Greens will perpetually posture.

In eight years of Conservative-led government, we’ve seen horrific cuts and the systematic erosion of our public services… this is nothing new.

What has shocked me this week is the lack of understanding around policing and race demonstrated by the Conservative Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

Traditionally, the relationship between black and ethnic minority communities and the police has been turbulent to say the least.

It has been 25 years since the Macpherson report denounced the police force across the UK as institutionally racist following the death of Stephen Lawrence.

And just this week the Thames Valley Police force has been forced to apologise for retweeting an offensive tweet mocking Diane Abbott after she raised the issue that black people were nine times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.

So imagine my surprise to hear our local PCC stress that there had been “a lot of cry” about stop and search not being proportionate and describe some hate crimes as “a minor thing of people being very rude to each other”.

As a victim of both, and on behalf of everyone across Reading who has suffered this, it would have been wrong for me not to have challenged such flippant statements.

These comments are problematic because they erase the very real and traumatic experiences of BME people subject to racist policing practices and unconscious bias.

They erode the demoralising impact of being hassled as a result of the colour of your skin and amplify the fear and distrust amongst some communities around reporting hate crimes to the police.

This is dangerous in an environment where hate crimes have doubled since 2012, where racists rant freely on planes and trains and where members of the LGBT community face violent attacks.

It is a sad fact that no underrepresented group has been unaffected by this growing and ever increasingly vicious trend of bigotry in our society.

In a police area with a significant underrepresentation of BME police officers - only five per cent in a population of approximately 15 per cent, experiencing a rise in hate and violent crimes and caught publicly ridiculing the serious issue of stop and search… you would think that our PCC would be doing everything possible to reassure members of the public.

Sadly, it is quite clear to me that he is completely out of touch with the people of Reading.

At the very least, I would like to acknowledge the good relationship developed with local police teams who have attended public meetings, listened to councillors and members of the public and targeted resources in challenging areas.

It has been refreshing to have open and honest conversations about hate crime, anti-social behaviour and resources.

It is a shame not to see this reflected in statements made by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

I would like to invite Mr Stansfeld to return to Reading to meet some of our residents affected by the subjects mentioned on Monday night.

He is evidently in some need of re-education and we would be happy to host a meeting of members of the public so he can see first-hand the harm caused by such attitudes.