Merseyside Police become 18th force to apologise to LGBTQ+ community for historic mistreatment

Merseyside Police Chief constable Serena Kennedy met with with the LGBTQ+ community to say sorry. Credit: PA Images

Merseyside Police has become the 18th police force to apologise to the LGBTQ+ community for historic failings which "ruined lives".

Chief Constable Serena Kennedy met with with the community, which she says was "wrongly targeted" by officers, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s.

Campaigners who have pushed for apologies have hailed the move as "historic" and hope other police forces around the UK will follow suit.

The British activist Peter Tatchell has been leading the campaign to get UK forces to acknowledge their role in victimising the gay community over many years.

Chief Constable Kennedy said she recognises that policing has moved on over the last 20 years, but there is "still work to be done to improve trust and confidence."

Merseyside Police has become the 18th police force to apologise to the community. Credit: PA Images

She said: “It has been a deeply humbling experience to consider in-depth our past mistakes, particularly by an organisation I am so incredibly proud of today.“I now have an informed understanding of the harm that has been caused over the years and I wanted to apologise on behalf of Merseyside Police, for our historic mistreatment of our LGBTQ+ communities and our homophobic application of the legislation in place at the time, which was wrongly used to proactively target members of the LGBTQ+ community, in particular gay and bi-sexual men.

"This ruined lives as it had a lasting negative impact on those who were targeted. As a result of the overuse of that legislation members of that community didn’t feel they could be open to be who they were, or about the people they loved, for fear they would be arrested and sent to prison.”

The campaign has attracted apologies from the Metropolitan, City of London, Sussex, South Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Gwent, Cambridgeshire, West Mercia, Nottinghamshire and Wiltshire forces.

“Saying sorry helps draw a line under past police homophobia. It’s a laudable continuation of the great work the police have been doing in recent years", said Mr Tatchell.

"I hope it will inspire more LGBTs to report hate crime, domestic abuse and sexual assaults, which is what we all want."Chief Constable Kennedy added: “I know I cannot change the past and it saddens me greatly to think that our historic actions have diminished trust in Merseyside Police and led to feelings of injustice that persist for some today."

She continued to say: "I wholeheartedly agree that policing has changed considerably in that time, but I want to ensure we do not forget our past and ensure the learning over the years galvanises our ongoing commitment and continuous improvement, to ensure we deliver the best possible service to all our LGBTQ+ communities.”

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