City of Westminster
8th August 2008
On Tuesday evening, 29th July, I together with other MPS colleagues, met with a number of people from the transgender communities in an open meeting in Westminster. This meeting came about as a consequence of events during Pride celebrations on 5 July.
The meeting generated a lively and helpful discussion about a range of issues covering the relevant incidents and wider issues of trust and confidence between the police and trans people. There were a number of areas talked about where I believe the MPS can now make further progress as a result.
The point was made, a number of times during the evening, about the need for us all to listen to and learn from each other.
Part of the learning has been about the impact on the trans communities of early responses from the MPS. In particular, it is clear that my "open letter" had a very different impact from the one I intended. My intention was to provide reassurance that a senior officer had taken ownership and was determined to learn the organisational lessons that would undoubtedly emerge.
I offer my personal and sincerest apology that my letter did not have the effect I had intended and upon closer reflection I can see why this caused deep upset to some of the trans communities. It was never my intention to suggest that my officer's actions would not be investigated or that there would be no need to offer advice and improved training to him and his colleagues.
It is clear that members of the trans communities and the officer found themselves involved in a set of circumstances for which the trans communities were not responsible. They were clearly the victims. It has been claimed that the demonstrators assaulted stewards - examination of CCTV evidence demonstrates that these claims are mistaken. Despite the best endeavours and intentions of the officer, these obviously came across in a way, which caused misinterpretation, confusion and hurt.
I hope that the response of the MPS speaks more loudly than my initial choice of words. We have taken ownership of the issues at a very senior level; we have circulated advice about the GRA to our officers; we have resolved the complaint against the police officer to the satisfaction of the party involved and continue to investigate with full vigour a number of criminal offences connected with these events. We have also, of course, held an open meeting to maintain dialogue with the community.
I have asked the Diversity and Citizen Focus Directorate to hold a de-brief of these events with MPS practitioners to ensure we get the maximum learning from them. I know that a significant issue to be taken forward is the raising of awareness and training of our staff and the Diversity & Citizen Focus Directorate are now looking at options that further expand our developing partnerships with our transgender support associations who can assist us with our continued learning of this complex arena of diversity.
We have to start from where we are, not where we would like to be. Mistakes have been made and I and certainly my colleagues within the Diversity and Citizen Focus Directorate are aware of the disappointment and anxieties the trans communities have felt over this highly regrettable incident. We have for some years striven to understand the many issues, which beset the trans communities and in so many ways we have succeeded in listening and responding.
Obviously the MPS has let you down on this occasion for which we have to double our efforts to repair and restore the much needed trust and confidence which can enable us to progress these issues in order to deliver very real and meaningful change.
This is not perfect, but it goes a long way towards meeting our needs - in particular, it establishes that there was no assault on the security staff, which makes it easier to pursue their mistakes.
I know some people are not happy that we negotiated with the Police, but this is not the worst outcome. There is still the GALOP complaint outstanding, for the moment, until we have digested the implications of this.