I stand with LGBTQ+ community
Friday 7 August 2020
Usually at this time of year, I would be checking that my rainbow shirt is freshly ironed and ready to be worn to Swindon and Wiltshire Pride.
Unfortunately, in line with Covid-19 restrictions and to help keep everyone safe physical celebrations this year aren't able to take place, but that's not to say that celebrations are completely off the table.
Instead, LGBTQ+ culture will be celebrated virtually with a number of events and activities planned online, and if you were planning to attend the celebrations this year then I would encourage you to join online instead.
Whenever I, or Wiltshire Police comment on LGBTQ+ festivities we tend to receive a mixed response, often with some commenters suggesting that we're 'virtue signalling' and should 'focus on policing'.
Whilst some are quick to assert that, we live in an age of "political correctness gone mad".
Not only is there more to policing than crime, we must remember that we police by consent, and that consent and trust must be forthcoming from all the communities our officers, staff and volunteers serve.
Wiltshire is a diverse community and it is vital our Force reaches out to, and reflects, the communities it serves, which is why I am pleased that Wiltshire Police continues to build relationships and diversify its workforce to represent the communities it serves.
If people in our county are treated differently to another because of their gender identity, or sexuality then we need them to have the confidence to come forward and report that to us.
People might say hate crime is not a big issue in a rural county like ours. But I can assure you it is a big issue for those on the receiving end.
Wiltshire Police is an inclusive place to work. We pride ourselves on the support we give our staff to be themselves and to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues they, or their communities, may be facing.
This is just one of the ways Wiltshire Police supports LGBTQ+ equality. It also holds regular surgeries in trusted LGBTQ+ venues, rainbow epaulettes are available for officers to wear if they wish, the Force is represented at local PRIDE marches (albeit virtually this year) and works closely with partner agency Stonewall.
Therefore, this weekend, I will be wearing my rainbow shirt with pride, in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ communities and the challenges that they continue to face.
I am proud to send this positive and powerful signal to our community - we support everyone's right to live their life free from prejudice. Only by raising awareness will we educate people on these important matters and ensure everyone's voice is heard.