Avon & Somerset Police chief constable apologises over past LGBT+ policing

THE chief constable of Avon & Somerset Police has apologised for historic failings in policing of LGBT+ people.

Sarah Crew has written to equal rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in response to his Apologise Now campaign.

Launched in June, Mr Tatchell’s campaign calls on all police forces to apologise for their role in the over-policing and under-protecting LGBT+ people in the past and was backed by the likes of TV star Paul O’Grady.

“We need this apology to draw a line under past homophobic victimisation, and to boost LGBT+ trust and confidence in the police to report hate crime, domestic abuse and sexual assault,” Mr Tatchell said.

Now, in response, chief constable Crew has responded.

“I acknowledge the important work you are continuing doing to advance LGBT+ rights and to safeguard those who have historically not received fair or just treatment from the institutions which are here to keep us all safe,” she wrote.

“I am sorry for the over-policing and under-protection that LGBT+ people have suffered in Avon and Somerset in the past.

“The police enforce the law, but some of the laws we enforced in the past were discriminatory and our role in this has undoubtedly led to significant hurt, pain and anger, which has damaged our relationship with LGBT+ people and reduced their trust and confidence in us.”

Avon & Somerset Police chief constable, Sarah Crew

Avon & Somerset Police chief constable, Sarah Crew

She said she hoped “acknowledging the hurt we have caused in the past” would help the force rebuild relations with the LGBT+ community.

“We are not the same police service that we were in the 70s, 80s or even 90s,” she went on.

“In Avon and Somerset, we have an ambition to be the most inclusive police service in the country and I take my responsibility to police legitimately and by consent very seriously.”

She said the force was developing a plan to help rebuild the trust of the community, “so that they feel empowered to report crime”.

READ MORE: Avon & Somerset Police ‘institutionally racist’, says chief constable

“We are keen to increase the reporting of hate crime, domestic abuse and sexual assault, which we believe LGBT+ people currently under-report to us,” she said.

“These crimes have a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities, and it is vital people have the confidence to come forward and seek help from the police when they occur.”

A series of community engagement events are planned for 2024, she added, to consult on plans to ensure LGBT+ voices are heard.

“Thank you for your challenge to me, and my peers, to own the mistakes of our past and to strive for a more inclusive and fairer policing service,” the chief added.

“I look forward to working with you as we progress this.”

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.