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Chair's Blog (Number 3: 2017)

Friday, 14 April 2017 10:00

Welcome to my latest Blog update.

The LGBT History Month Quiz Night held on 24th February was a great success. Some photos from the event can be viewed via our Facebook Page. Importantly, over £650 was raised for the Pride Youth Games in Scotland organised in partnership between LGBT Youth Scotland and LEAP Sport Scotland. The winning quiz team were from Glasgow Frontrunners who were duly presented with the coveted GPA Scotland mugs. It was also great to see teams from British Transport Police and Police Scotland Ayrshire Division represented.

The day following the Quiz Night, on 25th February, the LGBT Youth Scotland candidate hustings for election to the Scottish Youth Parliament was held. GPA Scotland were asked to provide a live video webcast via the LGBT Youth Scotland Facebook Page. A thousand people tuned in live with many more viewing the video after the event. 

2026 Strategy and Pulse Survey

Police Scotland and the SPA have launched their 10 year strategy, “2026”. The strategy is currently out for consultation (https://consult.scotland.police.uk/consultation/2026/) and I would encourage our members and stakeholder organisations to read the strategy proposals and participate in the consultation process. I have been involved in the consultation process prior to the launch of the strategy together with representatives from all of the Diversity Staff Associations. The Executive Committee will formalise a GPA Scotland response prior to the deadline of 8th May and any member of GPA Scotland can email us with their views. Likewise we are interested in hearing from you in relation to the Police Scotland “Pulse" survey results. At present we don’t have the breakdown in terms of LGB however as soon as we know the results we will update you. 

EGPA General Board Assembly

So onto Europe. The European LGBT Police Association (EGPA) General Board met in Brussels on 2nd and 3rd March. In addition, the Executive Committee met with representatives of ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation) which includes EuroCop as one of its members, CESI (European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions) and ILGA-Europe on 1st March. 

GPA Scotland joined EGPA in 2013 and I was elected by the General Board onto the Executive Committee in April 2016. 

However I require to wind the clock back to 1st February when the Council Of Europe SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Unit organised a meeting of government representatives in Cyprus in order to launch “Policing Hate Crime against LGBTI persons: Training for a Professional Police Response” manual produced in part by EGPA Training Ambassador Paul Franey (Ireland). This manual is designed for police trainers, investigators, managers, hate crime officers and frontline police officers working in countries across the Council of Europe. It builds on Council of Europe standards and its purpose is to provide assistance, information and appropriate tools for conducting trainings on hate crime against LGBTI persons, to help improve law enforcement officials’ substantive knowledge on hate crime against LGBTI people and strengthen their capacity and practical skills to investigate such hate crimes.

As a result of EGPA, Paul was able to consult with as many as 15 member nations including Scotland looking at various training models and best practice from across Europe. This comprehensive manual is something we look forward to sharing with our own police services. 

Returning to Brussels, the meetings held with ETUC, CESI and ILGA-Europe were aimed at forming new alliances and contacts especially in the harder-to-reach Eastern European countries (from an LGBT/police perspective). ETUC and CESI represent the vast majority of police and criminal justice sector trade unions including EuroCop of which the Scottish Police Federation are members. Trade Unions within the policing sector are key to progressing equality, diversity and inclusion including challenging homophobia. They can also raise awareness of the work of EGPA. Likewise ILGA-Europe with its large NGO base and contacts. Being openly gay in many police organisations across Europe is still the exception and not the norm. A Greek police officer who attended the World LGBT Conference for Criminal Justice Professionals held in Amsterdam last year was fined by his Police Force when he returned for no other reason than simply attending the conference in his own time. Most just wouldn’t take the risk and perhaps a fine would be the least of their worries. 

It can be relatively easy for us here to take GPA Scotland for granted and the progress that has been made. The police officer from Greece and another I met from Serbia (at the conference in Amsterdam) still aspire to have what we now take for granted. 

The EGPA General Board Assembly was opened by the Commissioner General of the Belgian Federal Police, Catherine de Bolle, who spoke of her own challenges as a woman within policing and personal support for LGBT police and EGPA. Two days of presentations, discussion and decision-making followed. That might seem a bit long for a meeting but when you have 15 nations represented and the added language ‘issues’ - we could have done with an additional day as we didn’t manage to get through all of the agenda items. EGPA General Board only meets twice a year. It can be a lot to cram in.

I also recorded a video for IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) on behalf of EGPA following the success of the video I recorded for the same event 2 years ago in Turin, Italy. This will be edited and released on 17th May.

Scottish Police Federation Bi-ennial Conference

I was delighted to be invited as a guest to the SPF Conference at the end of March. As the statutory staff association representing the rank and file of police officers in Scotland, being able to attend conference and talk to SPF representatives from across Scotland about the GPA and LGB issues within policing has been an important part of our engagement with the SPF that goes back over a decade. This was also the first conference for the new SPF Chair, Andrea McDonald, and I am sure we will continue our positive relations with Andrea as we have had with previous SPF Chairs.

Ministry Of Defence Police

I am delighted that GPA Scotland will now have representation on our Executive Committee from Ministry Of Defence Police. That means we now comprise Police Scotland, British Transport Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Ministry of Defence Police. A truly representative association including all police forces operating in Scotland. 

Newsletter

We are currently in the process of compiling our next newsletter “Over&Out” so if you have any interesting stories or news from your Division or Force or from the local community please let us know by contacting our Communications Secretary (communications@gpascotland.com).

Some dates for the diary

Pride season will soon be here and this year GPA Scotland will return to Pride Glasgow for the parade on 19th August. More details and registration will be coming soon. 

We will also be supporting J Division for West Lothian Pride on 29th July so if you would like to know more or take part please contact our East Region Coordinator Grant Robertson (east@gpascotland.com).

British Transport Police will be holding a number of recruitment events for regular and special constables later this month (more details can be found: https://btp.tal.net/vx/lang-en-GB/mobile-0/channel-1/appcentre-External/brand-3/xf-0b1ef4c47e96/candidate/jobboard/vacancy/3/adv/) and are keen to reach out to the LGBTI community. If you would like more information you can contact our BTP rep (btp@gpascotland.com).


In Memoriam

We have all been deeply saddened and shocked by the horrific events which took place in London on 22nd March. We remember the bravery of PC Keith Palmer who was killed in the line of duty. Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues.