The Listening Policeman

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Carl Wonfor of the Strategic Relationships Team, a part of the Diversity Directorate at New Scotland Yard, acknowledges the concerns expressed in "Shopping With a Nightdress" [Polari Newsletter Winter 03]

Policing is a funny old job; we now have business plans, aims and objectives, and formula to work out staffing ratios. The other week I heard about a station being entitled to an extra "one and a half" police officers. Which half do they get? The bottom half if they need that half to walk the beat, but not much use when it comes to talking to people - or more importantly listening to people.

The Metropolitan Police Service is responsible for policing 7 million people living in London, and everyone is entitled to the same level of policing service regardless of their gender, age, faith, sexual orientation, race or disability. However we know that there is often a mistrust and lack of confidence in the police.

Concern expressed in the article "Shopping with a nightdress" [Polari Newsletter Winter 03/04] about the poor attitude of some police officers, which on some occasions, ranged from outright hostility to lack of awareness. We also know from our work with the LGBT Independent Advisory Group to the Metropolitan Police that this view prevails elsewhere within the LGBT community. Indeed the aim of the LGBT Advisory Group is "Better policing for the LGBT community" because they "have been badly policed in the past". By failing to build trust and confidence between the LGBT community and the police we fail to get the information we need that will allow us to identify and arrest those who commit homophobic crimes. We fail in essence to make London safer.

My role is to listen and to identify how we can build trust and confidence in the police within the LGBT community. In the "Shopping with a nightdress" article mention was made of people having access to Lesbian and Gay Liaison officers, we now have 101 of those across London. You may contact them about all or any offence, not just obviously homophobic ones. If you want to make contact with your local LGBT liaison officer then ask to speak to your local Community Safety Unit at your local police station who will put you in touch with the relevant officer.

In some cases, you may not wish to speak directly to the police or remain anonymous. In those circumstances, you can get assistance in reporting through GALOP who have a wealth of experience and knowledge and can give advice or contact the police on your behalf. They will also be able to help you if you feel we, as the police have not got it right.

If you really don't want to speak to anyone, you can report any incident either as a victim or witness using the "Report It" self-reporting pack or local Borough reporting schemes.

Hopefully we are moving in the right direction, and I have a new objective to add to my list - that by making London safer, so no one needs to go shopping with a nightdress.

For more information on the LGBT Independent Advisory Group to the MPS, visit their website at or by telephone on 07952 970813.

[ This posting originally appeared on the Polari website, ]