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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
John Dunne

Met Police chief in ‘historic first’ apology over LGBT+ victimisation

The head of the Metropolitan Police has apologised for past failings towards the LGBT+ community in what a renowned gay rights campaigner has hailed as a historic first.

Peter Tatchell thanked Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley “for being the first UK police chief to say sorry for decades-long victimisation” of this community.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation has been leading an #ApologiseNow! campaign calling on all UK police chiefs to apologise for past homophobic persecution.

Sir Mark, in a letter to Mr Tatchell, acknowledged that while police had to enforce the law at the time when homosexuality was criminalised, the way this was sometimes done had “failed the community and persist(s) in the collective memory of LGBT+ Londoners of all ages”.

Part of the letter said: “The Met has had systems and processes in place which have led to bias and discrimination in the way we have policed London’s communities, and in the way we have treated our officers and staff, over many decades.

“Recent cases of appalling behaviour by some officers have revealed that there are still racists, misogynists, homophobes and transphobes in the organisation, and we have already doubled down on rooting out those who corrupt and abuse their position.”

It added: “I am clear that there is much for us to do. I am sorry to all of the communities we have let down for the failings of the past and look forward to building a new Met for London, one all Londoners can be proud of and in which they can have confidence.”

The Met boss apologised in March in the wake of the damning report by Baroness Casey which found there was racism, misogyny and homophobia in the force.

But Mr Tatchell said the apology he received by letter yesterday was a “ground-breaking step forward” that “draws a line under past Met persecution”. It is hoped Sir Mark’s words will be repeated by other police chiefs in the UK, the campaigner said. Mr Tatchell said: “We are not asking the police to apologise for enforcing the law, but to apologise for the often illegal and abusive way they enforced it.

“The police did not make the law but they chose to enforce it in ways that today would be deemed illegal and unacceptable.”

He added: “We thank Sir Mark Rowley for being the first UK police chief to say sorry. His apology is a ground-breaking step forward that will, we hope, spur other police forces to follow suit. It draws a line under past Met persecution. This will help strengthen LGBT+ trust and confidence in the police; encouraging more LGBTs to report hate crime, domestic violence and sexual assault.”

Mr Tatchell has previously said he agreed that the Met was “institutionally homophobic”, referring to the force’s failure to fully investigate the murder of four young gay men by serial killer Stephen Port.

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