Rural Welsh police force set to drop different uniforms for male and female officers... to avoid upsetting transgender people

Harry Yorke
Dyfed Powys - WALES NEWS SERVICE

A rural police force is set to drop its traditional uniform in order for transgender officers to wear “gender neutral” clothing, it was announced yesterday.

Dyfed Powys Police said several officers were not comfortable with the different dress codes enforced on male and female colleagues, adding that some traditional protocols had in fact “adversely” impacted the transgender community.

However, the announcement has been branded “ludicrous” by David Davies, MP for Monmouth and a former British Transport police special constable, who accused the force of attempting to “win brownie points” by “pandering” to minority groups.

Mr Davies, who is chair of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, added: "The only major difference in uniforms now are the hats but I don't think minority groups are going to be bothered anyway about the headgear worn by men and women officers.

"It's a huge amount of work involved for no great gain."

In brief | Transgender issues

With the policy now under review, the archetype policeman may now be a thing of the past, as beat officers consider ditching ties and cravats, hats and helmets, for a more inclusive uniform designed to “minimise gender differences”.

Defending the proposals, a spokesman said the changes would be “cost neutral” and that officers would still be permitted to wear their traditional attire, should it be desired.

The review follows a lengthy consultation with a gender identity working group, which was enlisted by the force to help make it more transgender friendly.

Among the concerns raised, the focus group said that traditional differences between uniforms had become impractical, leading to transgender officers being pushed into “non-public facing roles” or forced to “out themselves” in the workplace.

Dyfed Powys is also considering redesigning custody cells, so that inmates would also be housed in ‘gender-neutral’ facilities, and making staff toilets unisex across all sites.

It is hoped that the 18-pronged strategy, which includes training call handlers to drop gender pronouns, will  improve transgender people’s experiences with the police.

The uniform switch is one of 18 gender changes being brought in by Dyfed Powys Police  Credit: Dyfed Powys Police

Assistant Chief Constable Liane James said: “As a Force, we have learnt that there may have been times when our practices and procedures have adversely impacted our Trans communities and their engagement with us.

“This isn’t right. We have been actively working with these communities to improve our service.

"Dyfed-Powys Police is committed to providing a fair and equal service to all those we serve and therefore, I am pleased to confirm that we have committed to all 18 recommendations made by the Gender Identity Working Group.

"I will personally ensure that we make progress against these recommendations over the next year and look forward to reporting our progress to you.”

The announcement comes on the back of mounting tension between the LGBT community and police forces across the UK, amid accusations that trans people have been subjected to “mistreatment and violence” at the hands of officers.

This has been most keenly felt among student activists, including members belonging to the National Union of Students, who earlier this month passed a motion encouraging Prides to discontinue having a police presence as part of the parades.

The motion, entitled ‘No Pride in the Police’, was passed at an NUS transgender conference held on 13 March, with students vowing to “support and organise actions against police presence” because they allegedly target “trans people, along with sex workers, working class communities and communities of colour.”

Claire Parmenter, Dyfed Powys’ chief superintendent, said that the force took crimes involving members of the LGBT community “extremely seriously”, adding that specialist officers were now tasked with assisting trans victims.

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