Inspector Jacqui Prest
Greater Manchester Police Pride Network Co-Chair
About Inspector Jacqui Prest
Hi, my name is Jacqui Prest and I wanted to share with you a little of my life journey from trying to hide my true self to finally being empowered to stand tall, dance through the streets of Manchester and be very open about being a gay woman.
I was always attracted to the same sex from my early days in Primary school, yet when I started secondary I knew that I needed to hide my feelings, so I did. I pushed all my feelings down so deep, I would banish any thoughts as ridiculous and certainly didn’t, couldn’t talk about them to anyone throughout secondary school.
When I went to college I remained ‘in the closet’, until a summer holiday abroad with my friends when I met someone and the attraction was immediate. Later in the year I travelled to Norwich to see her and my world exploded, I was so confused about what I was feeling and scared about acceptance from family and friends. With no one to talk too I became emotional and angry, I had always been able to tell my mother everything and yet I didn’t feel I could tell her this, not this!
By this time I had started to play Hockey it was a way of releasing my emotions and frustrations and whilst no one on my team (that I knew of) was gay I found comfort there. Eventually I met another player who I told and together we planned to go into the Gay Village in Manchester.
I have never looked back, I finally found a place I could be me! I flourished, and met like-minded friends. I always knew I was gay but I had actually started to accept I was gay, embrace it, and when I did this my confidence rocketed. The feelings I had been supressing had been dragging so much of my personality ‘the real me’ down.
My hockey was taking off and I started to move to different clubs and I didn’t hide my sexuality I knew it was part of what made me me – yet I still couldn’t tell my mother and that hurt. Telling my mother should really have been easy you see I have four older brothers and 2 of them were also gay and my mother knew and hadn’t changed how she was with them. I asked my brother to help me tell her, and I will never forget that moment.
It was a family get together and mother was cooking Sunday lunch, I walked in behind my brother and he asked mother if he could talk to her, she took one look at my face and my brother told her I was gay. The scream still rings in my ears as she ran past me and straight up to my room, she started throwing my clothes, everything I owned down the stairs and then she picked it up and threw it outside the front door. My world fell apart, my brothers didn’t know what to do but I knew I had to leave. This was her initial reaction, yet over the next 12 months our relationship returned to how it was before my brother told her I was gay, but I know many don’t, and in fact many years later my mother walked me down the aisle and gave me away at my wedding.
In 1997 I joined Merseyside Police and once again I went back into the closet. At home and in my social life I was my true self but I did not feel strong enough to be myself at work so I hid the true me from everyone I worked with. My life must have seemed as dull as anything to them yet that was anything but the truth, I felt I was living two lives. I would dread the questions about boyfriends and what I got upto at weekend (if only they knew) a far cry from the black and white uniform my weekends were full of rainbows, dancing and romance.
As friendships were formed in Merseyside I realised I wasn’t the only person hiding my sexuality in the job, and we had a shared sense of secrecy. I would watch police officers marching at Manchester Pride and feel excitement about what could be but then I would return to work and listen to the comments and my rainbow screaming to get out would stay quiet and hidden.
I spent 10 years in Merseyside Police and met some amazing people, colleagues and friends but I was never ‘out’ and to this day I wonder what I could have achieved had I been free to release my true self. I left Merseyside as a Sgt and transferred to GMP to be closer to my elderly mother and my girlfriend (now my wife).
From day one in GMP I brought my true authentic self to work, and I have never looked back. I have marched and danced in uniform at Manchester Pride, the acceptance and sense of overwhelming pride is something everyone should experience.
I have been married to Joe for 12 years this August and we have been blessed with our 2 boys through the wonders of IVF, and my mother who is now 91 is a very happy GranNan.
In 2015 I was promoted to Inspector and I have been the chair of GMPs Pride Network for over 5 years, this year we have moved to Co-Chairs to ensure more voices are heard. The struggles for acceptance and equality are still there, they are getting better. I am privileged to know and work with inspirational officers and allies who have and continue to pave the way for others.
Please look for the support around you, seek out your Pride Networks they will be a great support to you and most of all be you, bring your rainbow with you wherever you are, whatever you do and shine.
Detective Chief Superintendent Clint Blackburn
City of London Police Network Member
About Detective Chief Superintendent Clint Blackburn
I joined policing in 1992 when there were no visible gay role models.
Back then policing was very macho which made it hard to be myself, so I decided to spend the first ten years hiding who I really was from family, friends and colleagues – simply through fear of rejection and ridicule.
At the time I worked in a country force and colleagues would think nothing of popping in for a cuppa whilst out on patrol. I can still recall my partner going over the garden fence to avoid being seen. This was a crossroads for me and I decided enough was enough and got a job with Virgin Airlines. But at the last minute I changed my mind and refused to throw a job I loved down the drain. I transferred to a London force, bit the bullet and came out at the age of 32.
Since that day I have never looked back. I stopped isolating myself and began to get promoted and succeed in my career. Over the following 17 years I moved from PC to Chief Superintendent; I know that being able to be myself played a huge part in my success.
When I started to lead teams I began to spot others out there facing a similar struggle. I realised that if I had met someone like me earlier, it would have given me the courage to be myself at work. So I decided to step up to the mark and help others.
As a result I have contributed to running several support networks, introduced HIV+ SPOCS, represented the SE of England for the National LGBT+ Network, elected LGBT+ Reserve Member for the Police Superintendents’ Association, brought in a trans tool kit, and then sat as co-chair the National LGBT+ Police Network until 2022.
We still have some way to go, especially for trans and bi colleagues, but we are on a journey of progress. I am now pushing hard to make sure we leave a legacy in policing so LGBT+ staff can feel themselves and the LGBT+ community can come forward to report crime and seek help.
If I were to give one piece of advice for anyone considering coming out, it would be to just do it. If you are worried speak to an ally or a LGBT+ colleague and make sure you have support in place, but you will be surprised just how rewarding it is to take that leap of faith.
Police Constable Amy Tapping
National Co-ordinating Group Member
About Police Constable Amy Tapping
I’m Amy Tapping and I have been involved with the National Network since it’s inception and was a Regional Representative for 2 years, representing Northumbria, Durham, Humberside, Cleveland, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire LGBT staff Association’s at the National Co-ordinating Group meetings. I then became the Co-Chair for the National Network with my tenure ending in 2023.
Geographically this was a particularly large area with very differing communities from urban to rural.
Due to my involvement in the National Network I launched the Northumbria Police LGBT Staff Association. With the support of the committee the Association has gone from strength to strength built of both Allies, Staff, Officers and Volunteers.
Annually the association takes part in Northumberland Pride, Northern Pride and Sunderland Pride and supports the recruitment and HR team at various events throughout the year. Northumbria Police LGBT+ Association also hosts a annual LGBT Ball raising money for a different charity each year.
I am an openly Gay woman and since becoming involved in networks I am more aware of the importance of talking to people and challenging their perceptions of the LGBT community as a whole. This applies equally to senior managers as it does to my peers. Simply having conversations with colleagues in the workplace creates opportunities for all staff to learn and improve their understanding and empathy for others.
An important part of my role is to be visible to all – by being a visible role model I hope to encourage more of my colleagues to be open and out in their workplace and to show the community it is possible to be gay and in the workplace. Since this I have seen more officers and staff of all ranks be more comfortable in being open about their sexual orientation.
As a regional lead I see my core role as being a conduit of information both from each force to the national group and back to the forces in order to support the staff associations in improving equality for all. .
I have worked in response policing and neighbourhood in two forces and am currently involved in performance management. Outside of Policing I have a horse which I compete in Dressage and I am a Goalkeeper for Whitley bay & Tynemouth Hockey Team and Northumbria police Hockey Team.
Inspector Steve Alison
Deputy Representative for the Eastern Region of the National LGBT+ Police Network
About Inspector Steve Alison
My name is Steve Alison and I am an Inspector for Hertfordshire Constabulary. I am currently a response Inspector and volunteer my time to Chair the Herts Police LGBT+ Network; I am also deputy lead for the eastern region of the National LGBT+ Police Network.
I have always been open about my sexuality since joining the police and have never been confronted with any issues. I have found my organisation to be very welcoming of LGBT+ employees with several senior out role models including our Assistant Chief Constable. However, I know that there are still many colleagues that struggle to come out and bring their whole self to the workplace, particularly those from the trans community. This is why I have always felt empowered to act as a role model in the community, doing what I can to champion rights for our LGBT+ employees.
Over the past few years I have been able to use my position to bring in changes to make our uniform policy gender neutral, and to update several force policies making them more inclusive. I have also been able to work with and support several LGBT+ colleagues who have gone through professional standards investigations and unfairness at work processes. One of my greatest successes was to use the constabulary as a platform for supporting trans young people in Hertfordshire. We held several trans youth events bringing young people and their parents together, discussing hate crimes and enabling them to network and socialise.
I am delighted to be involved with the National LGBT+ Network; it is fantastic to see what can be achieved when we all work together. The sharing of best practice is key and we have already brought several successful programmes back to Hertfordshire as well as sharing our own learning.
Transgender Executive Member of the Metropolitan Police LGBT+ Network
About Stephenie Robinson
I was previously the Co-founder and Chair of the National Trans Police Association (NTPA) before it was merged with the LGBT+ Network in 2019 – responsible for driving change in vetting to reflect Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equalities Act 2010 regarding Protected Characteristics.
I advise and look to drive changes in policy and attitudes to make it better for Transgender people in policing.
As a Blue Light Champion, I combine soft skills with determined approach to help colleagues finding life a bit too challenging and signpost people to other forms of help.
I served 9 years as a Special Police constable in the heart of London and retired as a Special Sergeant in 2019.
Chief Inspector Daniel Ivey
Metropolitan Police LGBT+ Network Co-Chair
About Chief Inspector Daniel Ivey
As the co-chair of the Metropolitan Police LGBT+ Network, I, like many colleagues, have a busy day job as an operational chief inspector in Westminster, and finding time to undertake activities and projects to drive LGBT+ issues onto the police agenda as a voluntary co-chair can be a stressful business. But the savagely violent homophobic attack in our city last year by a group of men on Melania Geymont and her girlfriend Chris, whilst they were travelling home on the night bus, is a sickening reminder of why we need to continue to keep LGBT+ issues high on the policing agenda. Even as a 6’5 Met cop, there are occasions in London and around the UK, certainly around the world, where it is definitely not safe for me and people like me.
I have had straight colleagues challenge me: “We all get the gay thing, can’t you lot just pipe down?”
Well, tabloid newspapers have never titled a front page “Britain threatened by straight virus plague”. We haven’t seen an international rugby star announce to the world that “hell awaits straight people”. Straight people have always been allowed to serve in the military. They can also donate blood. And they’ve always been able to get married. Straight people don’t get stopped from working just because they’re straight. Generally speaking, schools are not told that they are indoctrinating children with an awareness about straight people. Nor have I seen any placards or protestors describing children having an awareness of straight people as toxic and disgusting. Nor have I seen education about the existence of straight people banned by the state.
As a general rule, straight people who decide to marry are not imprisoned, flogged, or stoned to death for being in a relationship. Straight people booking a honeymoon don’t get told by the travel agent that they will have to tell everyone they are brother and sister, or that they shouldn’t really visit that country as it’s not very safe for straight people and certainly not straight couples. Straight people are not murdered just because they are straight, or look like they could be. And as a rule, they can catch the night bus home and not be savagely beaten and robbed by a mob, just because they were seen holding their loved ones hand.
So using the influence I have in the Met as the network Co-Chair is a double edged sword of privilege and a burden of responsibility, because I know how far we have come as a service, but how much still needs to be done.
Rev. Sr. Maria Renate CssD
Merseyside Police LGBT+ Network Executive Member
About Rev. Sr. Maria Renate CssD
I am Rev. Sr. Maria Renate. I have recently stepped down from Chaplaincy with Merseyside Police to take up a volunteer role with the Community Engagement Unit.
I am a Catholic nun and an intersex woman. I have been involved with LGBT pastoral care within the Merseyside region for over thirty years, beginning with AIDS & HIV outreach. My involvement with the MERPOL Trans Advisory group led me to three happy years of Chaplaincy during which time I joined the LGBT+ Network Executive.
I am one of a number of exec members who provide LGBT+ awareness sessions to student officers, cadets, specials, and PCSO recruits.
This has given me the opportunity to speak in depth about a lesser known member within the LGBT+ family, namely Intersex. Being able to dispel a few of the myths and provide greater clarity about who we are and how wide and varied the very nature of intersex really is, is deeply rewarding for me, and I sincerely hope to continue on this educational path both locally and nationally for some time to come.
Sergeant Benjamin Lindley
Derbyshire Constabulary LGBT+ Network Co-Chair
About Sergeant Benjamin Lindley
My name is Benjamin Lindley, and I am a serving Police Sergeant with Derbyshire Constabulary, and the Co-Chair for our internal LGBT+ Network. I joined the police service in 1996, and this is my third force, having previously worked for West Yorkshire Police and Northamptonshire Police. I have spent the majority of my service as a frontline uniformed response officer, and I was also a dual-purpose dog handler for 12 years in total on the Operations Department. I was promoted to the role of sergeant in 2018, and since that date I have trained to become a Hostage Negotiator, providing a 24/7 on-call capacity, and I also cover accredited Acting Reactive Inspector duties to fill in for cover as and when needed. I am also in the process of being trained to lead a team in a Public Order situation.
I thoroughly enjoy my job, and definitely would not want to be doing anything else. I like working on the frontline in a uniformed capacity, as I like the fact that every day is different, and I am able to leave the office and support my team members. The environment that I work in is usually very fast-paced, and I have to think on my feet, and be flexible to meet the demands. I like the additional responsibility that the individual roles bring, I find I work best under pressure, making quick time decisions based on threat and risk.
I also like to support colleagues, and I am both a misconduct welfare officer and a Network support lead. I find that my negotiating skills help me with these roles, particularly when it comes to helping others. Outside of work I am currently completing a Level 2 Counselling Skills Course, which is person-centred. I find that this compliments the support roles that I hold within the workplace, not to counsel, but to actively listen, and empower others to make the right choices based on their individual needs.
I am a Trans role-model, both within my own organisation, and also externally. I present trans-awareness presentations on a national level, and also support at other events such as Women in Policing. I enjoy sharing my own professional and personal experience, to increase awareness amongst others about the transitioning journey, and the implications that this has within the workplace.
My favourite quote is, ‘The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity’. (Amelia Earhart)
South Wales Police LGBT+ Network Co-Chair
About Vicky Knight-Little
Hello, my name is Vick and I am a CSI Supervisor for South Wales Police.
I relocated from living and working in London to sunny South Wales in 2008 where I am still attempting to learn the Welsh language, helped by my little girls homework!
I began my police service career working for Hertfordshire Constabulary in a projects team, before moving to the Metropolitan Police Authority. I was in the Community Engagement team of the Authority undertaking projects, research and supporting Police Authority Members to hold the Commissioner to account around diversity issues.
On the tube home one evening I saw an advert for SOCOs (Scenes of Crime Officers), I thought this role was for police officers or people with a scientific degree, It wasn’t. I applied and was delighted to get the job. London was a great place to work and learn with an amazing team. In 2008, my wife and I decided to relocate to Wales and have never looked back.
SOCO and CSI (Crime Scene Investigator) roles are largely Police Staff roles now across the UK and in my opinion, it is the one of the best jobs to have. Every day is different and I feel that CSIs make a real contribution to serving communities at often a very difficult time for them.
I began my involvement in the LGBT staff associations in Hertfordshire. I was also involved in LAGPA (Lesbian and Gay Police Association), then the GPA (Gay Police Association) in London, marching in Prides as a Police staff member, as a Special Constable and as a SOCO before joining the Gay Staff Network in South Wales. Much to my surprise after being so active in London, I resisted joining the network in South Wales. Although I am always out and will very vocally challenge any assumptions about myself or others both in work and outside of work, I found myself not wanting to be ‘active’ and ‘a problem gay’ in my new environment.
I finally got involved in the network after being a silent member for a year or so, and am now the Co-Chair of our LGBT+ Network and really enjoy the role. I realised it was my worry that I would be labelled / talked about, in what I considered to not be a diverse organisation. It was that which spurred me on to once again get involved and be a role model for others.
We need to stand up and be visible, to help others that may be either not as confident or just starting their journey to be themselves.
Detective Constable Neil Jones-Keyte
Regional Representative for the West Midlands Region of the National LGBT+ Police Network
About Detective Constable Neil Jones-Keyte
My name is Neil Jones-Keyte and I am a Detective Constable from West Midlands Police working in child protection.
I am new to the national network and am still finding my feet. I have put myself forward to help with training, pride and parenting. I am a father of a little boy aged eight and this drives my passion for the parenting portfolio. As an ex-trainer I still strive for delivering training to new officers and existing staff. And pride (who does not love a pride) is the reason for why we do this and why we need to keep doing this and gaining support.
I am the West Midlands Regional Representative and I help aid communication between the National Network and West Midlands, Warwick, Staffordshire and West Mercia Police. I also feedback information from forces to the National Network.
I had been a member of the West Midlands Police Network for a number of years and also attended events with other forces from across the country. We have just had new Co-Chairs for the group and we are reorganising our committee. My role here will be to continue my work with the national network to bring new ideas back to the force to make us grow stronger. I will be having a larger focus on membership, introducing new members and working on retention. I will also be organising socials for our members and the West Midlands region.
I also work as part of the buddies system for people who need help and advice and continue to support our members.
Dyfed Powys Police LGBT+ Network Member
About Rachael Middleton-James
I have been involved in our LGBT+ staff network for a number of years and I am an LGB&T liaison officer within Dyfed-Powys police, covering mid and west Wales. As a network, we work closely with all the welsh forces, especially during 2019 with the organisation of the Police National LGBT+ conference in Cardiff as an all Wales organised event. Our staff networks take an active role in influencing positive change with our force.
After working in the control room at West Mercia police as a dispatcher for two years, I moved back to Wales in 2006 and secure the same job with Dyfed-Powys police. The control room can be a busy and fast pace at times, answering emergency and non-emergency calls, dispatching officers and managing incidents on a division. I worked with some great teams over the years, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I came out later in life and my supervisor at the time was one of the first people I told and he was so supportive. Having had support of our network over the years, I have been keen to be further involved and to help provide the support that is needed for out LGBT+ staff and the organisation.
I was not so keen on the shift work after a number of years. I therefore, whilst working full time, studied part time with the Open University to obtain a HND in computing and IT. Being diagnosed as dyslexia as an adult, I had a greater understanding of how I learn and have continued to develop many skills and tools over the years.
In 2014 I started working in what is now known as the DCCU (Digital Communications and Cybercrime Unit) as a Digital Forensic Investigator. Examining mobile phones, computers and storage media for evidence of criminal activity. This is certainly an area which is placing an increased demand on our police service and will continue to do so with advances in technology.
Police Constable Andy De Santis
Metropolitan Police LGBT+ Network Member
About Police Constable Andy De Santis
I’m Andy De Santis and I’m a Police Constable with the Metropolitan Police Service, working in Westminster having patrolled Central London for a while. I volunteer some of my time as a LGBT+ Adviser, which allows me to engage with the community around Soho, which many call the beating heart of London.
I was born in Brazil (therefore, Latinx) and I’m also half Italian – which is important for context. My first engagement with the police here was as a student at Cardiff University. During a film festival I met someone who I later found out was a police officer. At the end of our conversation, he said “You should join the police, you’d make a good officer.” I remember my surprise, as I thought that this guy didn’t seem confrontational, something I thought necessary for the job, having little knowledge of the police in the UK.
All I knew about police, was what I knew from back in Brazil where it is a lot more “military” and the police are seen as a lot more authoritarian and intimidating. A few years later, I found myself working for Transport for London working first with customers through our contact centre – learning the skills of de-escalating situations through diplomacy – then as a Communications Lead with our operational staff, before becoming Deputy Chair of OUTbound – TfL’s progressive LGBT+ Network. During this time, I also volunteered with charity organisations supporting the LGBT+ Community and those suffering from substance misuse or abuse. The volunteering allowed me to practice my skills as a Mental Health First Aider, as mental health is another issue where the LGBT+ community suffers the most. Through this work, I would sometimes engage with the LGBT+ Networks from the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police, London Fire Brigade and others. Some police officers here echoed that initial invitation that I should join the Police Service based on my communication skills and my community support experience.
So I listened to them and my heart and joined up! My previous experience plus my passion for diversity and supporting people led me to join the LGBT+ Network where I can provide a voice as an officer with a different background and support other people in a similar situation.
Volunteering with LGBT+ charities helped me understand that victims sometimes feel better supported when they are being listened to by someone with similar experiences. I was often exposed to some of the issues faced by the community, and those offers to join the service prompted me to support victims more closely. I am now a trained LGBT+ Adviser, which sharpened my knowledge and assists me in supporting the community as a police officer. This also extends to officers who are not familiar with LGBT+ issues, as a point of contact for any concerns.
I am also part of Project Sagamore, a multi-agency response to crime and vulnerability within the chemsex context. This is a concerning topic, and something my volunteering experience prepared me well for. The project is led by the Met and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, London.
My work as an officer helped me understand the engagement we have with our communities, who may be unfamiliar with “policing by consent”. I often engage with local communities to understand their concerns and my LGBT+ Adviser badge helps for some people to feel safe and understood. I am also part of my Borough’s Inclusion and Diversity Strategy, working towards improving our relationship and procedures with the communities we serve.
Internally, I am also a Blue Light Champion supporting officers who may struggle with their mental health, where my training and experience is also put to good use.
I’m really proud to be a police officer, an LGBT+ Adviser and to be able to represent the Met positively to often marginalised communities. It’s really important that we represent the Londoners we support and I trust my work goes some way towards that aim.
Sergeant Rebecca Shoebridge-Cave
Essex Police LGBT+ Network Chair
About Sergeant Rebecca Shoebridge-Cave
I am proud and honoured to be the Executive Chair for Essex Police’s LGBT+ Network.
I have been the Chair since about May 2020. Our Network has 90 members but is ever growing. I am an advocate for a great network within the Force that offers support and guidance for anyone who identifies or has family/friends who identify as LGBT+.
I strongly believe that nobody should feel negativity because of who they are.
I am married with 2 children and am a Police Sergeant with nearly 20 years service. I have worked in a number of roles within the Police, including CID, Custody and Response. I am a TRiM practitioner and LGBT+ Buddy.
Sergeant Steve Thornhill
British Transport Police LGBTQ+ Network Lead
About Sergeant Steve Thornhill
I’m Steve Thornhill, currently a response Sergeant based at Sheffield for British Transport Police. I am currently the force’s LGBT+ Network lead.
I transferred to BTP in 2018 having previously worked for Staffordshire Police since 1998 and was part of Staffordshire‘s LGBT+ group since its inception. I was one of the first out gay cops in Staffordshire.
I’ve always wanted to ensure that there is equality, whether inside or outside the job. When I started in policing, being LGBT+ at work wasn’t an option at all – there was still a ‘macho’ culture and being a gay cop on shift wasn’t a consideration. Fast forward 20 years and personally I have found that being a gay cop is about an interesting topic as the weather!
I think it is incredibly important to be yourself at work, whether that be straight, questioning, non-binary, L, G, B or T. Being yourself and having the confidence to be you can only be good for the organisation because you can look forward and outwards instead of trying to be a cop with a wall surrounding you, hiding and ‘protecting’ the true you. It can be daunting taking the first step in being out at work – you never only come out as LGBT+ once, you do it every time you meet a new group of people – but in being open and honest, it is easier to be the person you are. That in itself helps to inspire trust and confidence in the communities we serve and shows that whoever you are, if you want to work in the police, then policing is an option for all.
I’ve represented my previous force and UK policing at EuroPride events and I’ve supported new recruits in ensuring they know that if they decided to come out at work, their experience would be a positive one. I think it is incredibly important for all police officers to encourage people to consider policing as a career choice. The Peelian principles are as important and as valid today as they were when they were written, and for officers to be truly effective in the communities they serve, they need to be reflective of those communities. By continually engaging with BME communities, other hard to reach groups, and LGBTQ communities, we will continue to improve trust and confidence, and ensure that all people see police as a positive force – as well an attractive career choice!
Dr. Jane Fare
About Dr. Jane Fare
Hi I’m Jane and I’m responsible for designing and constructing buildings for specific Police use. This can be quite varied, from general office buildings, to custodial, forensic or firearm units etc.
It takes seven years to qualify as an architect, and my qualification has led me all over the world to work on some spectacular flagship buildings including skyscrapers and casinos in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur and princely palaces in the Mediterranean.
For the last 15 years, I have been based back in the UK and for the last 10, have worked exclusively for the Police, and generally for Humberside, where I live. I love working for Humberside Police, and am very proud of the supporting role I play.
I came into Architecture through a creative route as I studied Fine Art, painting and sculpture before moving into construction. Although I still paint very large canvasses, and have a multitude of artistic friends, my move into Architecture was a positive one for me, as I have been very happy with my choice of career.
In support of me as a lesbian, Humberside Police have been fantastic, and I have probably stayed with, and enjoyed working for them for so long because they are the most supportive employer I have ever had.
I have been completely ‘out’ as a lesbian for all of my working life because I see my lifestyle as perfectly normal and perfectly acceptable. I have never made any excuses for my sexuality or felt I have had to conceal my personal identity. I am confident, assertive and completely at ease with my wonderful gay lifestyle, and feel very lucky to have it. Most of my social interaction revolves around my sexuality and my creativity .. and I do throw a very good party :o)
Police Constable Adrian Tyson
Cumbria Constabulary LGBT+ Network Chair
About Police Constable Adrian Tyson
I joined Cumbria Constabulary in 1997, as a Crime Inputter before joining as a Police Officer in 1999. I have worked as a Response Officer, Community Officer and now in the Command and Control room at Headquarters.
The Police was different then, to what it is now, I wasn’t aware of any other gay Police Officers. There was no association. Cumbria being a large geographical rural area with little support, it was hard to meet or get to know other people like myself so I remained silent about my sexuality.
A few years later I was able to be openly gay after a lot of negative experiences at work, I had the full support of my family and close friends however some of my work colleagues weren’t supportive.
Moving to January 2020 things are a lot different, I have been appointed Co-Chair of Cumbria Constabulary’s LGBTQ Association. As I am new to the role I am finding my feet and look forward to working with other associations. I want to be a role model that shows my caring personality, to be able to support people who want to be themselves, both at work and in their community. I am lucky to work for a Police Force that is very inclusive, supportive and allows me to be myself. At the end of the day everyone deserves to be happy, included and most importantly themselves.
Police Sergeant Cheryl Irvine-Tubb
South Wales Police LGBT+ Network Representative
About Police Sergeant Cheryl Irvine-Tubb
I am originally from Northern Ireland and moved to South Wales at the age of 19 to study at Swansea University.
My experience of growing up in Northern Ireland, a country marred by inequality and sectarianism, created in me a passion and belief in equality.
I joined South Wales Police in 2009 as a Student officer and with two years service I was very fortunate to be elected as the Chair of our network. I was inspired to do so because I wanted to play an active role in making things better. In my first two years service I had moved to 3 stations and 3 new teams, each time having to come out again as colleagues made assumptions about me. Whilst I recognised that I could not fundamentally change that, I felt the organisation needed to have a better understanding of it. I led the network for four years and in that time we were in the early stages of creating the All Wales network and really building some exciting networks.
Whilst I recognised that things were much better in our profession than others, there was much room for improvement and creating a better understanding in our colleagues of the importance of inclusion and diversity. It has always been about changing hearts and minds for me.
I am still involved with the network as a BCU representative. I am extremely proud of both our network and of South Wales Police. I have seen many positive changes in my ten years service but there is always room for improvement.
Throughout my career I have worked on Response, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, the Youth Offending Team and more recently in the role of Response Sergeant. In addition to my ‘day jobs’ I have held voluntary additional roles which include Representative Workforce Champion where I was responsible for mentoring candidates from diverse backgrounds in their applications to join SWP, Protest Liaison Officer and Police Youth Volunteer Lead (Cadets).
Outside of Policing I have been a Volunteer Adult instructor in the Army Cadet Force. I am married and have two adorable (and busy!) step children.
Police Constable Paul Bloomer
PSNI LGBT+ Network Co-Chair & Northern Ireland Regional Representative
About Police Constable Paul Bloomer
Hello I’m Paul Bloomer, I’m a serving officer in the Police Service of Northern Ireland. I identify as Queer/Bisexual, I live with a disability and I am male identifying intersex person.
I was raised by parents that came from opposite sides of the community divide in Northern Ireland. My parents instilled in me a deep respect for diversity, a strong desire for public service and also for social justice. They raised my sister and I to be solution driven, positive people and to try and make the world a little bit better as we pass through it. I always wanted to be a police officer but I never thought the policing institution was welcoming of LGBT+ people, I remember when I was 15 my career’s advice teacher in school telling me that I wouldn’t be suitable for the police because of my sexuality, this left me feeling dejected and resentful. I left Northern Ireland in 2002 like a lot of young LGBT+ people did, I’ve heard a phrase a lot of LGBT+ people who left Northern Ireland say, ‘We went away to be gay’.
I was in London in 2008 when I saw an advertisement for Police recruitment in an LGBT+ Magazine, it was like a lightbulb went on in my mind, the police would accept someone like me, I felt something that was always out of reach for me was now possible. I made the decision that I wanted to return to Northern Ireland and help be a positive role model for LGBT+ people in my home country. I joined the Police Service in 2010 following a career in marketing and banking. I’ve worked in a range of roles in policing including emergency response, community policing and as a liaison officer between the Court service and the Police Service NI.
I joined what was the Gay Police Association (GPA) on commencement of my service. I was one of three Police Service NI officers present at the launch of the National LGBT Police Network in Manchester 2015. After the launch we were the first Police Service NI officers to march in uniform at a Pride event. It was transformational for me, hearing the positive reaction from the crowd was deeply moving. An older woman from the crowd grabbed my arm, I could see tears in her eyes, she said she had left Northern Ireland as she had suffered discrimination for being LGBT+, she too had ‘went away to be gay’. She told me once she seen the Northern Ireland uniform she felt that some positive change had come over her home country and that seeing the Police Service NI there made her feel represented in a way she never expected. It was deeply moving for me, I had never stood in my police uniform and had people cheer and clap, it renewed my sense of Pride in my uniform and I wanted every officer especially those who are LGBT+ from my home service to experience the same. I also wanted the LGBT+ community in NI to see and know that they were supported by their Police Service. I knew that change was needed back home to allow this to happen and that I had a lot of work ahead of me.
I helped reform the GPA into the Police Service NI LGBT+ Network. I was part of the team which successfully lobbied for the first participation of Northern Ireland Police Officers in uniform in Belfast Pride in August 2017. We walked through the streets of Belfast, with 50,000 people cheering and clapping us, I looked around at the faces of my colleagues and I could see the positivity light up their faces. I felt like we had brought a little bit of positive change to my home country and I couldn’t be prouder of that.
I currently serve as the Co-Chair of the Police Service NI LGBT+ Network. I also sit on the European LGBT Police Association general board and I’m the Northern Ireland representative to the National Coordinating Group of the National UK LGBT+ Police Network.
I would say to any LGBT+ person reading this, you are meant to be seen, you are meant to be celebrated. Live your life proudly and in the open. You are not alone, there are police officers out there who will work to help you and protect you. If you are suffering from hate crime, domestic abuse or bullying, please report it. Give us the chance to do something about it.
Police Constable Vikki Pendleton
Staffordshire Police LGBT+ Network Co-Chair
About Police Constable Vikki Pendleton
In 2015 i joined Staffordshire police at the age of 30 following working in an education setting for 10 years. I was already out and very open about my sexuality when I joined, this did not however help the anxiety of starting a new job and how this would be received. Starting a new job meant that I would have to go through that coming out process all over again, which can be scary. Thankfully I joined a response shift where everyone was fully supportive and it was never an issue. I found as time went on and moving into a role in CID, Staffordshire police is a very inclusive place to work and I have luckily never experienced any negativity towards my sexuality.
I was always very aware that this may not have always been the case for everyone, not just people we work with but also for the communities we serve. It was for this reason that I decided to become part of the LGBT Network, initially starting as a member before taking a more proactive role as events organiser and then onto co-chair, which is the role I currently hold.
It is with support from my own force, my network and the national network, among other things that helped me in my quest to become a parent and I am now lucky to be a mummy to 2 beautiful little people. It is because of this I am passionate about LGBT families and equality for them, not just when they become parents but also the support required on the long and sometimes difficult journey to become a parent.
Detective Constable Adam Maskell
City of London Police LGBT+ Network Co-Chair
About Detective Constable Adam Maskell
Having transferred to City of London Police in 2017, I was quick to join the LGBT+ staff network, having previously taken on the role of chair with my previous force. I had witnessed first-hand the value of the work that the network undertakes and the reach that it had to the staff, the organisation, and the wider community.
My personal experience of ‘coming out’ several years into my career as a police officer was very positive, thanks to the support and friendship I nurtured from within the network and among colleagues; helping me through what can often be a difficult time. It proved to be incredibly valuable to reach out to other colleagues who could relate to what I was going through, or who were simply there for me: visible and present. Looking back, I can firmly state that the network aided both my personal and professional development by providing me with a reliable support system – one of which I can only hope to extend and ensure is available to others.
When the opportunity to take a more active position presented itself, I took on the co-chair role in November 2019. I felt it was a great opportunity to continue with the ongoing work, helping to shape the City of London Police into an organisation that supports and celebrates diversity and promotes a culture of acceptance and inclusivity.
Whilst the role requires a high level of commitment, it’s without a doubt a rewarding position which presents the opportunity to have a real impact on key issues that affect the LGBT+ community.
Working with the Co-Chair Sergeant Nina Houghton-Worsfold, our aim is to continue to promote a workplace that is supportive of its employees, whilst being equipped with the tools to provide the best service to the diverse community we serve.
Detective Constable Beth Davies
Norfolk & Suffolk LGBT+ Police Network Co-Chair
About Detective Constable Beth Davies
Hi I am Beth Davies and I am a Detective with Norfolk Constabulary working within CID.
I joined Norfolk Police in 2012 having had a previous career working with individuals in substance misuse treatment. Policing was a career that I was always interested in; I wanted a career that would challenge me and I wanted to be able to make a difference.
I started working as a response PC in a rural area before moving to work in Norwich City Centre. I worked there 5 years on and off before taking the decision to train as a Detective, a role which I thoroughly enjoy.
I had previously struggled with coming out to people in the past as I had difficult experiences with it growing up. But on my first day as a Police Officer, I made the decision to be myself and was welcomed and supported by my peers. This is something I have continued to do throughout my career. I joined the LGBT+ Network but for some time I remained a dormant member, not having the confidence to put myself forward. That was until I was encouraged and supported by a senior member of the committee to get involved and since then I have never looked back. I currently Co-Chair the Norfolk and Suffolk LGBT+ Network with Dan Low, someone who I really admire and look up to!
My experiences as a Gay woman within the Police has been overwhelmingly positive, however, I know that this has not always been the case for the LGBT+ community within Policing and my work with the Network has helped me understand and appreciate the massive progress that has been made by those individuals that founded the Network and started its positive work before me. I will always be eternally grateful to them for this!
I have found myself humbled by the stories and experiences of those people when attending the National LGBT+ Network Conferences and I am determined to continue to build upon those achievements. It is thanks to them that I can bring my whole self to work and not feel that I have to hide any aspect of who I am. I know all too well the detrimental effects of feeling that you have to hide who you are, so I am determined that people should feel comfortable to be themselves. Thanks to the Network I have the confidence to be me! I hope that by being a positive role model, I can encourage and support others in doing the same. I am pleased to say that I have received amazing support from Norfolk Police and we continue to work together to build a better and more inclusive work place for everyone.
I believe that kindness and unity are fundamental. No one should be made to feel less because of who they are. Inclusivity and diversity are really important to me and I often work by the mantra that you should be the change that you want to see in the world.
Chief Inspector Mark Evans
Regional Representative for the South East Region of the National LGBT+ Police Network
About Chief Inspector Mark Evans
I have been an active member of my force LGBT+ network since I joined the service in 2001 and have been fortunate to not only be comfortable to be ‘out’, but to work for an inclusive and supporting organisation.
Over the years I have taken an active part on the executive committee, and I have been the Co-Chair of the Sussex Police LGBT+ Network for the last two years. Why do I do it? Well I think the answer is simple and yet perhaps slightly odd! My aim is to remove the need for the LGBT+ network. This can only be done, however, once we reach that milestone where all LGBT+ staff can feel totally comfortable with their sexuality or gender, and are treated equally by everyone they meet.
Within my own force we have a strong and established LGBT+ network with a membership of over 100 officers and staff. I work with an exceptional team of executive members who focus on providing support for not only our staff who identify as LGBT+, but also for the organisation. I believe we have a role to play in acting as a critical friend to the chief officer team, and this is something which is welcomed in my force. However, whilst I do believe I work for a fantastic force, I know we still have staff who do not feel they can be themselves, and we still face moments of discrimination and behaviours which fall outside of the code of ethics, and I am committed to doing all I can to stamp this out.
In addition to my role within my own force I made the decision to get involved on a national level, initially as the deputy lead before taking over as the South East Regional Lead. I wanted to do this to be part of the conversation, shaping what we do as a network to support our staff. I believe we can achieve so much more in unison than as individuals, and this has been highlighted in the work the National LGBT+ Network has done. I am proud to represent the South East, offering support to my colleagues around the region, and ensuring they are not only kept up to date, but have the opportunity to take an active part.
Police Constable Danni Gibson
Cleveland Police LGBT+ Network Chair
About Police Constable Danni Gibson
Hello I am Danni Gibson, and I am the current chair of the LGBT+ Network for Cleveland Police.
I am a response Police Officer and I have been for 3 years. Previous to this I was a PCSO and the Restorative Justice lead for the force.
I have been involved in the LGBT+ Network since we relaunched in 2015, and been Chair for the network since 2017.
I love being part of something that has many different functions within the force and representing Cleveland at national LGBT+ events.
I feel it is important for LGBT+ visibility to show support for all officers and staff. It is important to drive forward the fact that every person should feel comfortable and confident to come to work and be their true selves without discrimination.
PCSO Kate Jackson
Wiltshire Police LGBTQ+ Network Co-Chair
About PCSO Kate Jackson
I am PCSO Kate Jackson and I’m the Co-chair for Wiltshire’s LGBTQ+ Network.
I am PCSO with Wiltshire Police and have been since Sept 2006. I absolutely love my job and have worked on a number of neighbourhoods over the years. I have been covering North Swindon for the last 11 years and have built up some amazing contacts.
Being a PCSO really feels like the old bobby on the beat, everyone knows who you are. I really enjoy having a job that contributes to building a safer community for everyone, particularly working with partner agencies such as going into schools, family centres, councils and housing.
I started working with Unison as the Deputy LGBTQ+ rep back in 2015 and have been involved with Swindon and Wiltshire Pride for the last 6 years, way back when myself and Lee HARE the LGBTQ+ representative high-jacked a police car put balloons and rainbows all over it and joined in the parade. That was the first year Wiltshire police had been involved in Pride and we have been involved every year since.
The parade has become bigger and better with Mini donating a car every year with rainbow graphics, police, police staff and cadets walking in the parade. Wiltshire police even sponsored Pride a few years ago.
In 2018 I became co-chair of the LGBTQ+ network within Wiltshire and have been working for change ever since.
Detective Sergeant Kimberly Downs
Surrey Police LGBT+ Network Co-Chair & Deputy Regional Representative for the South East Region
About Detective Sergeant Kimberly Downs
I am currently a Detective Sergeant for Surrey Police based within the Child Exploitation and Missing unit.
I joined Surrey Police as a Constable in 2011. In 2012 I became a LGBT+ Liaison Officer, this included working with LGBT+ charities and organisations while simultaneously supporting the LGBT+ community within Surrey.
In 2013 I became a member of the LGBT+ Police Network committee which focuses on supporting Surrey Staff members and assisting in developing the force in relation to LGBT+ matters internally.
I have been the co-chair of the Network for the past three years and am the Deputy Lead for the South East Region.
I am extremely passionate in making sure that the public have confidence in the Police. I want them to know we are here to support them, including the investigation process, ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice. No person should ever be made to feel targeted because of their sexual preference or gender identify.