Chief Constable Andy Cooke, QPM writes about the special partnership developed between Homotopia and the Merseyside Constabulary over a decade.
This year sees Merseyside Police celebrate 10 years of partnership working with Homotopia. This is a legacy and testimony to our commitment to eradicate discrimination, fear and hate in all its facets
We have a huge part to play within all our communities to educate people and ensure that our community first ethos extends to all communities. Homotopia affords us this unique opportunity. By being part of the event we are visible about our stance on Transphobia, Homophobia, Biphobia and hate in all its guises. I also think it is critical that our LGBT+ staff know that I want each and every one of them being themselves and I want a truly diverse workplace, where difference is welcome and valued and performance at an optimum.
We have been part of Homotopia since 2007. This was a small seed which has grown and grown after an initial meeting between Bev Ayre, formerly of Homotopia and Detective Constable Tracy O’Hara, our LGBT+ network Chair which set about looking at how we could work best together. This has led to some amazing collaborations with one being the Pansy Project. Numerous senior Police Officers joined many partner agencies and planted Pansies within St Johns gardens. The pansy project is a project led by artist Paul Harfleet who travels the world planting pansies at sites of homophobic crimes, reclaiming a word which for so long is a derogatory word for Gay men and boys.
Each year we have been able to address those who attend the annual launch and share key messages, this is always an event we look forward to and forms part of our calendar. This year was no different with myself and 15 colleagues attending Homotopia’s launch party last week.
Project Triangle saw our officers travel to Poland with a number of LGBT+ young people to experience first hand Auschwitz and see where hate can lead to. This has been described by those from Merseyside Police who went as “a life changing, humbling and hugely impacting opportunity which will never leave us”. Some of those young people remain in contact with us and join our contingent each year at Pride which is testimony to those links made and the bond we continue to have. This collaboration led to the content forming part of key stage 3 on the school curriculum.
There have been many other pieces of work which have brought us together and we look forward to future working, it is only through partner agency working, that we will truly make a difference.
Merseyside Police stand together with all our communities and we will take action against any criminal behaviour which seeks to undermine society, especially where crimes are motivated by hate. Please contact Police on 101 to report hate or if you wish to speak to your local Sigma co-ordinator or via Twitter if non-urgent @merpolCC.
Communities defeat terrorism and other criminal behaviour, which is why we need to work together, the public and police. We depend on information from the public, who at times like this are our eyes and ears, to keep us all safe. If you get caught up in the rare event of a weapons attack we urge you to follow the Run, Hide, Tell advice (www.nactso.gov.uk) and if you do see any suspicious activity, call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321, or in an emergency always call 999.
Merseyside Police is committed to developing a Police Service that is reflective of the diverse communities that we serve. In order to achieve this, we are proud to use Positive Action and have a Positive Action Team, who assist in facilitating the recruitment of Police officers, Special Constables, Police staff, Volunteers and Cadets from under-represented groups. They provide appropriate advice, encouragement and support, specifically for people who are underrepresented* within the current make-up of our force, with the aim of developing a diverse workforce which meets the needs of our multi-cultural society.
For further information about Positive Action Support, please contact the Positive Action Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Please come and speak to our officers and staff, have a photograph taken, come and experience our new police with pride car and share in this wonderful celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans+ lives in this great city.