FIGURES showing the number of police officers who identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community have been released.
The figures – the first of their kind to be released – reveal that officers who identify as gay or lesbian make up less than three per cent of the workforce in some constabularies across England and Wales.
In Wales the figures show Gwent Police has the most diverse workforce, in terms of sexuality, while Dyfed Powys and North Wales, both with 2.9%, are among those with the lowest percentage of officers identifying as gay or lesbian.
The true number is likely to be higher due to the fact 16.7 per cent of the workforce had not recorded their sexuality.
The data was obtained by PA news agency under the Freedom of Information laws.
The agency said that a number of officers across England and Wales are reluctant to come out to their employers due to concerns about their sexuality creating a barrier to promotion or resulting in homophobic abuse.
The data has been released following the inquest for the victims of serial killer Stephen Port, where grieving family members and friends said prejudice, a lack of LGBT officers in Barking and Dagenham, and a failure to engage with the gay community at the time meant crucial clues about his murderous spree were missed.
Chief inspector Lee Broadstock, co-chairman of the LGBT+ network representing officers in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans officers across the country, said: “If we’re not representative of our communities then we don’t understand that community.
“There needs to be an understanding of what the communities need to give people an equitable police service.”
The force with the highest percentage of officers who recorded their sexuality as gay or lesbian was in Sussex, with 7.2 per cent. The lowest was recorded in Lincolnshire, with 2.3 per cent.
The figures showed Dyfed Powys and Suffolk had the lowest percentage of officers identifying as bisexual (0.8%). The highest rate was in Warwickshire (4.4%).
Similarly, the highest rate of heterosexual officers was in Dyfed Powys and Lincolnshire (both 96.2%), followed by Gloucestershire (95.5%) and South Wales (95.4%).
The lowest rate was in Sussex (89.1%) and Warwickshire (90.2%).
Mr Broadstock, a chief inspector with Greater Manchester Police, said: “I think what the data suggests is that there is probably a higher concentration of officers who are LGB in areas where there is a more welcoming environment for them – that’s where they will gravitate.”
But he said the true number of LGB officers in each force is likely to be higher, with no sexuality recorded for 61,000 out of 131,000 officers.
Mr Broadstock, who said he has previously experienced homophobia among colleagues and members of the public, added: “Sometimes they don’t trust what their force HR is going to do with their responses – are they going to be treated less favourably in future when it comes to promotions? – and without doubt Port shed a light on cultures within policing that are not welcoming environments.
“It is sad that that is still the case sometimes, but the picture is absolutely improving.
“If you tried to get these figures 20 years ago it would have been a very different story – I doubt you would have got any data.”
What are the figures for Welsh forces?
A total of 737 officers are recorded as heterosexual, equating to 96.2 per cen of the workforce where sexuality is recorded.
There are 22 gay/lesbian officers (2.9%), six bisexual officers (0.8%) and one who prefers to self-describe (0.1%). The total workforce, including those whose sexuality is unknown, is 1,220 officers. Some 61.6% of the workforce is described as male. A total of 62.8% of the workforce has its sexuality recorded.
A total of 1,076 officers are recorded as heterosexual, equating to 91.2 per cent of the workforce where sexuality is recorded.
There are 58 gay/lesbian officers (4.9%), 43 bisexual officers (3.6%) and three who prefer to self-describe (0.3%). The total workforce, including those whose sexuality is unknown, is 1,417 officers. Some 62.2% of the workforce is described as male. A total of 83.3% of the workforce has its sexuality recorded.
A total of 1,069 officers are recorded as heterosexual, equating to 95 per cent of the workforce where sexuality is recorded.
There are 33 gay/lesbian officers (2.9%), 19 bisexual officers (1.7%) and four who prefer to self-describe (0.4%). The total workforce, including those whose sexuality is unknown, is 1,646 officers. Some 61.3% of the workforce is described as male. A total of 68.3% of the workforce has its sexuality recorded.
A total of 2,715 officers are recorded as heterosexual, equating to 95.4 per cent of the workforce where sexuality is recorded.
There are 84 gay/lesbian officers (3.0%), 41 bisexual officers (1.4%) and seven who prefer to self-describe (0.2%). The total workforce, including those whose sexuality is unknown, is 3,232 officers. Some 66.1% of the workforce is described as male. A total of 88.1% of the workforce has its sexuality recorded.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, published in 2019, show an estimated 2.7 per cent of the UK population aged 16 and over identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, up from 2.2 per cent in 2018.
Another three per cent stated they did not know their sexuality, or refused to answer, up from 2.5 per cent in 2018.
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