Conservative MP Miriam Cates calls for police to investigate trans charity Mermaids

Mermaids charity
Mermaids has come under scrutiny in recent weeks. Credit: ITV News

A Conservative MP has called for a police investigation into a charity that supports transgender, non-binary and gender diverse children and their families.

Miriam Cates, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, told MPs there were concerns Mermaids was guilty of "serious safeguarding failures".

Her comments, during Prime Minister's Questions, came after the Leeds-based charity reportedly sent chest binders – compression undergarments used to flatten breasts – to young people against their parents' wishes.

Ms Cates also said that the charity "promoted harmful medical and surgical procedures to children" and had "unfettered access to vulnerable children".

She said: "Does my right honourable friend (Liz Truss) agree that it's taken far too long for these concerns to be taken seriously and does she also agree that it is high time for a police investigation into the activities of Mermaids?"

The Prime Minister replied: "It's very important that underage teens are able to develop their own decision-making capabilities and not be forced into any kind of activity.

"What I would say on the subject of the investigation she raises, of course those matters should be raised and should be properly looked at."

The Charity Commission has opened a regulatory compliance case into the organisation after a number of complaints. The move is the first step taken by the regulator – not a finding of wrongdoing.

A spokeswoman for the commission said: "Concerns have been raised with us about Mermaids' approach to safeguarding young people. We have opened a regulatory compliance case and have written to the trustees. We now await their reply."

Mermaids suspended some of its support services last week because of "intolerable abuse" following the controversy over working practices.

But it has denied allegations of safeguarding failures and said that it is the victim of a "smear campaign".