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British police chief quits Twitter following ‘homophobic abuse’ over her spiky hairstyle

Josh Milton November 24, 2019
Police chief Rachel Swann (L) addresses reporters about the evacuation of Whaley Bridge in August. (Screen capture via BBC)

Police chief Rachel Swann (L) addresses reporters about the evacuation of Whaley Bridge in August. (Screen capture via BBC)

A British police officer was subjected to “sexist and homophobic” abuse following a television appearance all because she had short, spiky hair with blond highlights.

Deputy chief constable Rachel Swann was a crucial lifeline for many Whaley Bridge residents after a damaged dam broke, leading to evacuations and major thoroughfare closures.

But after she spoke to reporters, trolls targeted her. She quit Twitter, shocked her “mere existence could cause such a depth of feeling,” BBC News reported.

Police chief targeted by homophobic Twitter trolls due to her short hair. 

As the senior officer in the operation, locals of the northwest English town grew to know Swann’s face well.

Days after the county was pummelled with intense rainfall, the reservoir crumbled. Resulting in around 1,500 residents leaving their homes.

However, after she did a press conference in August discussing the dam, trolls took to Twitter to decry her.

She told BBC Radio Derby: “Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I might have a slightly different hairstyle.

“Yes, I am quite small.

“The bit that astounded me was I could not believe that my mere existence could cause such a depth of feeling.

“I can take a bit of banter but then it became sexist and homophobic, and really, really insulting.

“The bit that really hurt was when people said I had no standards and I was letting policing down.”

“They were saying, ‘she’s not wearing a hat’. Often we would get advised not to wear hats – you can see our eyes, so you can gain trust.”

‘I made my stand without meaning to.’

Backlash against her bubbled and reached its apex when a press agency “wanted to run a story on” her hair.

She said: “My personal experience of the trolling and negative comments on social media are reflective of those that some people receive every day.

“Some of the comments were misogynistic and homophobic and the abuse I received has been recorded as a hate incident, in the same way it would be for the public or my officers and staff.

Moreover, Swann said that during her time away from the social media platform, she’s reflected that more can be done by law enforcement to tackle cyber-bullying.

“In recent years, we have seen children feeling bullied by their peers through personal attacks on social media.

“With youngsters, in some cases, so desperate it has resulted in suicide due to the pressures of the abuse.”

Nevertheless, Swann has since returned to Twitter, tweeting about the positive response her and her team’s efforts to the dam crisis received as well as dogs. A lot of dogs.

“In a funny sort of way I made my stand without meaning to,” she recounted.

“If some good comes out of that that’s fine, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t upset me.”

 

More: England, online, Twitter

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