Hertfordshire Police has proudly raised the rainbow flag at police headquarters in Welwyn Garden City today (Tuesday) to mark the beginning of LGBT+ History Month.
LGBT+ History Month is a month-long observance every February which celebrates the battles won by the LGBT+ community and highlights the struggles and prejudices they still face.
This morning, Deputy Chief Constable Bill Jephson raised the constabulary’s rainbow flag in an act of support and solidarity with the LGBT+ community.
He was joined by Sergeant Gary Cranfield, who is the Deputy Lead of the Herts Police LGBT+ Network, and Superintendent Clare Smith from the Criminal Justice and Custody Command, who is the force’s Strategic Lead for LGBT+.
The flag will be flying at headquarters for the start and end of the month.
The force is committed to supporting and celebrating diversity and officers regularly meet with local LGBT+ community groups to understand the issues they are facing and how the police can help.
The LGBT+ Network plays a vital role in this and even trains up officers to become LGBT+ Liaison Officers – a team who can provide specialist support to those who have been the victim of a LGBT+ hate crime or hate incident.
There is also a huge focus on helping LGBT+ colleagues within the workforce.
The LGBT+ Network is a support group open to all LGBT+ colleagues, and along with fun social events such as Pride, it offers confidential advice and assistance to those who need it.
Officers who require help in dealing with an LGBT+ hate crime or hate incident can also go the network for advice.
Deputy Chief Constable Bill Jephson said: “Policing is for everyone and today is a good opportunity to re-enforce that.
"The LGBT+ community have faced huge discrimination throughout history and while good progress has been made to tackle this, it would be naïve to say that prejudice no longer exists.
"It’s a sad fact that we do receive reports of crimes where people have been targeted due to their sexuality or gender identity.
"The LGBT+ community rightly looks to us to respond and we take our moral and legal duty to help them very seriously. We are here for you.
“Please never hesitate to get in touch if you are the victim of an LGBT+ hate crime or hate incident. We have specially-trained LGBT+ Liaison Officers and we will always do everything we can to help.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to remind the local LGBT+ community that we’re currently recruiting police officers and we’re keen to build a workforce that reflects the communities we serve.
"We’re proud to have a thriving LGBT+ Network which helps contribute to an inclusive and supportive culture where everyone is confident and comfortable to be themselves.
"If you are interested, please visit hertspoliceofficer.co.uk to find out more and apply.”
David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, said: “Great strides have been made in tackling prejudice and intolerance in society but we cannot afford to be complacent.
"It is totally unacceptable for people to be treated unjustly because of who they are or what they believe in.
“The constabulary have a responsibility to reflect the community it serves to ensure they are meeting the county’s diverse needs.
"My office will continue to support LGBT+ members of society, and police officers and staff, as it is crucial that they have a voice, and are supported when necessary.
"Hate crime has a devastating effect on victims, witnesses and their families. I am pleased to underline the great work of our trained staff who provide tailored, practical and emotional support via services such as Hertfordshire Beacon Victim Care Centre.”
Reporting hate crime
Hate crimes are crimes like any other, but that have the added distinction that the victim was targeted because of their disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
Victims and witnesses can report incidents to police without fear via the non-emergency number 101, online or 999 if a crime is on-going.
Victims can be reassured that they will be taken seriously and treated with sensitivity.
For more information about hate crime, including how to report it and where to get support go to www.hertsagainsthate.org.
How to contact an LGBT+ Liaison Officer
LGBT+ Liaison Officers can be reached by calling the non-emergency number 101 or by contacting police online. The support of an LGBT+ officer can be requested if required. Officers will treat what you tell us sensitively and in confidence.
To contact an LGBT+ Officer in your local area for non-urgent advice ring 101 and ask to leave a message for them to contact you.
Hertfordshire Beacon Victim Care Centre
Beacon is Hertfordshire’s Victim Care Centre and is staffed by professionals from both Hertfordshire Constabulary and Catch 22, an independent organisation commissioned to support victims of crime in Hertfordshire.
Beacon’s primary focus is to help you cope and recover from your ordeal. The team of dedicated and trained professionals will support you every step of the way.
The Beacon helpline is open 8am till 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am till 8pm Wednesdays. Helpline: 0300 011 5555.