The Gay Police Association is to lose its funding after a government decision to stop supporting police staff diversity groups.
According to a letter seen by Police Review, all such groups will have their funding stopped completely next month.
The letter from Justine Currell, head of police equality at the Home Office, said: “I know this will be a huge disappointment to you and your association but I do want to stress the importance the government places on equality and diversity both in society as a whole and in the police service.”
Other groups affected are the National Disabled Police Association, the British Association for Women in Policing and the Muslim Police Association, which said the makeup of the police force “could look like it did in the 1970s and 1980s”.
The Gay Police Association (GPA) received £102,000 of Home Office funding in the year ending April 2010, but this was halved to £51,000 in the last financial year, with the stipulation that the money was a “projects only” award – meaning it could not be used for administrative costs.
Deputy chair Vic Codling said this meant that volunteers had been paying out of their own pockets to represent the GPA at meetings and meet administrative costs.
The GPA began in 1990 and has never had full-time staff – only volunteers who help out and run its 24-hour helpline.
It has 3,000 members, who do not pay membership fees. Mr Codling said that charging membership would cost money to collect and argued that members should not have to pay to ensure they are represented and supported.
Mr Codling said the GPA was still necessary and claimed that gay officers still face discrimination.
“It would suit a lot of our colleagues if we didn’t have a presence,” he told PinkNews.co.uk. “Diversity is still an unpopular word.”
He added: “Some people say to me, ‘why can’t we have a straight or white police association?’. If they needed protection [because of their sexuality or race] then they could.”
Mr Codling, who questioned whether the funding cuts met diversity requirements, said that chiefs of the police diversity associations had been invited to a meeting with policing minister Nick Herbert, who is gay.
He said the changes would not mean the end of the GPA but will “affect our ability to help chief police officers with issues and support our colleagues”.
“If the police is such a good employer, people should be able to be openly gay with dignity but that’s not the case,” Mr Codling said.
He said that the organisation has “high credibility” with those who need it and has been praised by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
ACPO lead for equality Chief Constable Stephen Otter, said: “ACPO values the role played by the diversity staff support associations as a critical friend and recognises the contributions made in delivering a police service which supports its staff, provides an attractive career choice and meets the needs and expectations of the wider community.”
He added that ACPO would” continue to work closely with the staff associations at a national and local level to ensure the interests of our diverse workforce are taken into account”.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The government is committed to equality and supports the development of a diverse police service but we must tackle the deficit and the Home Secretary has been clear that forces must bear their share of the cuts.
“We recognise the work of police diversity groups but believe the leaders of the service, including the Association of Chief Police Officers and in the future Police and Crime Commissioners, should be using their expertise to deliver better opportunities for all staff.
“They will be responsible for building a diverse workforce and ensuring they have due regard for their duties under the Equality Act.”