Current Affairs

Homophobia claims rejected by police complaints body

Tony Grew March 28, 2008
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Sixteen allegations of homophobia made against the eight Devon and Cornwall police officers have been rejected by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The complaints were made in 2004 and 2005 by Malcolm Lidbury, a local LGBT activist.

He claimed he was “treated poorly” because of his sexuality and claimed that the Devon and Cornwall police have an “inherently homophobic” attitude.

Nineteen witnesses gave evidence to IPCC investigators about a range of incidents.

Several said they felt the police did not take gay domestic violence seriously.

Others said crimes go unreported because gay people have a lack of trust in the police.

The force diversity inspector admitted that Devon and Cornwall police has dealt “poorly” with the gay community, and that the Cornwall basic command unit’s diversity unit was understaffed, leading it to be “reactive rather than proactive.”

“No evidence of homophobic motivation behind any police action has been uncovered,” said IPCC Commissioner Ian Bynoe.

“Further investigation uncovered no evidence of homophobic treatment experienced by any witnesses and additional enquiries were deemed neither proportionate nor within the remit of the investigation.

“It is noticeable however that the allegations of homophobia have been met with confusion by some officers.

“The Devon and Cornwall Constabulary LGBT policy states that an incident need only be perceived to be motivated by homophobia to be investigated as such.

“Mr Lidbury had clearly stated that he believed that the officers’ actions were so motivated.

“However, there appeared to be a lack of understanding of this concept on the part of some officers, who initially showed reluctance to answer the allegation of homophobia, believing that they did not have to do so if there was no supporting evidence.”

A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall police said:

“The constabulary has a strong commitment to ensuring our services are accessible to all sections of the community, and recognises that we need to listen to the concerns of members of our lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender communities.”

Nine recommendations arose from the investigation, concerning the efficient finalisation of cases, the importance of accurate recording of information on incident logs and the correct procedure to be followed when serving a summons.

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