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LGBT charity hits back at Met chief as he says police can wear poppies but must avoid 'attaching' themselves to causes
29 August 2023, 15:54
LGBT charity Stonewall has questioned Metropolitan Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, saying if expressing support for gay rights "is too much for the Met Chief, then what are the hopes for meaningful action?"
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The group blasted his stance on officers expressing support for causes whilst on duty.
Sir Mark said while poppies are fine, police should limit the causes they attach themselves to.
Stonewall's director of external affairs, Robbe de Santos, told LBC: "Flying a rainbow flag to demonstrate allyship is only a tiny part of the action required to make London a safe city for LGBTQ+ people and root out the institutional homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the Met.
"If this is too much for the Met Chief, then what are the hopes for meaningful action?"
According to data from The Telegraph, forces in England and Wales spent nearly £66,689 between 2019 to 2022 on rainbow themed merchandise, as well as LGBT themed police cars.
Sir Mark told the Daily Telegraph: "Wearing a poppy in the autumn is perfectly proper, but there is not a lot that we should align to because the danger is that once you say 'we are going to align ourselves to a cause because 90 per cent of the population support it', what about the 10 per cent?
"Once you start having environmental and other subjects there are lots of people in the organisation who will personally support those causes and that is OK, but the Metropolitan Police explicitly supporting them is quite tricky.
"I'm fairly narrow minded on this. There are very few causes policing should be attached to."
He said officers "engaging with communities to understand what worries them is not woke", but added: "Starting to align yourself to causes is not something policing should be doing."
His comments come after reports that police officers at London Pride were told not to wear a badge commemorating officers killed in the line of duty, due to concerns about links to far-right groups in the UK
Government statistics state that hate crime based off of sexual orientation rose 41% year on year, and 56% against trans people.
The Casey Review shows that the levels of trust in the policy by LGBT Londoners has fallen faster than other groups.
Although, efforts have been made to improve relations between police and the LGBT community,
In the past, officers have shown their support for certain groups.
In June 2020, the Met Police gave the green light to police who wanted to take the knee at their own discretion.
In the same month, a policeman was filmed taking the knee outside of 10 Downing Street, in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
He was met by cheers of nearby BLM protestors.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Federation supports Sir Mark's decision.
The group represents officers in the Metropolitan Police Service up to the rank of Chief Inspector.
Vice chairman Rick Prior exclusively told LBC that "the Metropolitan Police Federation supports the Commissioners comments and observations".
"We believe that policing must always be demonstrably neutral with officers performing their duties without fear, favour or prejudice or displaying anything on their uniforms or equipment that shows an affiliation to a particular cause or political viewpoint.
"This must be the case irrespective of how virtuous any particular political cause may appear to be.
"There are always sections of society who hold lawful contrary views to the mainstream, and they must also have full confidence in the police to perform their duties without any kind of bias."