SUSSEX Police have been criticised by their own police and crime commissioner in a row over a trans sex offender.
Katy Bourne slammed the force following a tweet it published condemning comments made about serial offender Sally Ann Dixon.
Dixon, 58, was found guilty of 30 counts of indecent assault or indecency against children dating back to the 1980s and 1990s. The youngest child was only seven.
Dixon, a trans woman, was living as a man at the time.
Responding to criticism about them referring to Dixon as female, Sussex Police tweeted that they “do not tolerate any hateful comments towards their gender identity regardless of crimes committed”.
The tweet has since been deleted following an outpouring of furious criticism on social media from members of the public.
Ms Bourne said: “I am so disappointed that a successful prosecution by Sussex Police against a vile child sex offender has been completely overshadowed by the fallout from an unnecessary and tone deaf tweet.
“It is particularly upsetting after hearing the harrowing testimony of Dixon’s victims who had the courage to relive their horrendous experiences in court and after the investigation officer was praised by the judge.”
A statement from Ms Bourne’s office said that she has since been in contact with Chief Constable Jo Shiner and Home Secretary Suella Braveman over the issue. Ms Braverman had also condemned Sussex Police.
Ms Bourne made clear that the force had “somewhat lost the plot by voicing opinions that appeared to ignore or demean the experiences of the victims in this case”.
Dixon was sentenced to 20 years in prison at Lewes Crown Court at the beginning of September.
He is said to have abused a number of children at a lock-up garage and caravan on the South Coast while living in Crawley and Bexhill.
The Home Secretary said the force was “playing identity politics and denying biology”.
Sussex Police later apologised, saying: "An earlier reply to a comment on Twitter was inconsistent with our usual style of engagement; we apologise for this and have removed the comment.
"We recognise the rights of the public to express themselves freely within the boundaries of the law."