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South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Apologises to LGBTQ+ communities

“I am deeply sorry” Apology issued today to SAYiT from Chief Constable Lauren Poultney.

South Yorkshire Police have today become the third police force, following the London Metropolitan Police and Sussex Police to issue a formal apology to the LGBTQ+ community as part of the Peter Tatchell Foundation’s #ApologiseNow campaign.

Chief Constable Lauren Poultney issued the apology this afternoon by email to LGBTQ+ youth charity SAYiT, stating “I understand the policing approach in the 1980s, early 1990s and perhaps more recently has caused many of you untold harm … For this, I am deeply sorry.”

The full email is copied below:

From: LAUREN POULTNEY <> Sent: 15 August 2023 15:55 To: Heather Paterson <> Subject: #ApologiseNow Campaign

Dear Heather

In May this year, the Peter Tatchell Foundation launched the #ApologiseNow campaign and as part of this wrote to the National Police Chiefs’ Council to request an apology for the way LGBTQ+ communities have been historically treated by policing. The campaign clearly sets out that this is not about the enforcement of the law but the persecution of people for their sexuality.

Our national lead for LGBTQ+ communities, Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine subsequently met with Mr Tatchell to understand the impact this had on the trust and confidence placed in policing from our LGBTQ+ communities, both past and present. This meeting has led us to a deeper understanding of the impact of our actions and left me, along with Chief Constables around the country, feeling compelled to make an apology for those actions.

I want you to know that I have heard you. I have reflected on the past and I understand the policing approach in the 1980s, early 1990s and perhaps more recently has caused many of you untold harm. For some, this may have influenced your view of policing, of society as a whole and even of how you fit into society. For this, I am deeply sorry.

Whilst we cannot change history, it’s imperative we acknowledge it however uncomfortable that may be and we as a police service seek to rebuild the trust you may have once had the opportunity to place in us. I want you to know I am committed to earning your trust and confidence back in policing and feel this starts with acknowledging our failings of the past.

Please feel free to share this correspondence with anyone you feel may benefit from reading it.

Lauren Poultney Chief Constable

South Yorkshire Police is currently recruiting. To find out more about our police officer and staff vacancies, visit our website.

The apology comes as the UK Home Office’s most recent hate crime statistics show an increase of 41% in homophobic hate crimes and 56% in transphobic hate crimes in England and Wales marking the most significant annual rise since 2012.

Heather Paterson, Chief Executive of SAYiT who run a 3rd party hate crime reporting service stated “We are currently experiencing a climate of increasing anti-LGBTQ+ abuse, and know that many LGBTQ+ people don’t report crimes against them, denying them protection and justice, in part due to lack of trust in the police. We welcome today’s apology as an important step towards working to restore trust from our communities. Everyone deserves to feel safe whoever they are and whoever they love and we hope that today’s apology will encourage LGBTQ+ to feel more confident in reporting and seeking support when they experience hate crime, domestic or sexual abuse or any other form of crime”.

In response to the increasingly anti-LGBTQ+ climate, SAYiT will be hosting their Break The Hate: Responding to Anti-LGBTQ+ Hate Conference at St Mary’s Conference Centre on Monday 4th September. The conference will bring together professionals, academics, and community members to explore the extent of anti-LGBTQ+ hate in the UK and the responses by criminal justice and voluntary agencies. It will look at hate crime and other forms of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and related social problems, which go beyond that which is covered by the criminal justice system.

The event is open to anyone interested in challenging anti-LGBTQ+ hate, with particular relevance for those working in criminal and civil justice, frontline youth and community and support services, education, mental health, and LGBTQ+ organisations.

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