Chief of UK’s largest police force apologizes for past treatment of LGBTQ+ community

LONDON (AP) — The head of Britain’s largest police service has apologized for the force’s past treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, a move a human rights activist called a “groundbreaking” recognition. which would help build confidence in law enforcement.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley’s statement on Wednesday came after gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell launched a campaign calling on all UK police services to apologize for “past homophobic witch hunts”, which continued even after Britain decriminalized private sex between men in 1967.

In a letter to Tatchell, Rowley acknowledged that the way police enforce the law “has failed in the community and lingers in the collective memory of LGBT+ Londoners of all ages”.

“Recent cases of appalling behavior by some officers have revealed that there are still racists, misogynists, homophobes and transphobes in the organization, and we have already doubled our efforts to eliminate those who corrupt and abuse their position,” he said.

Rowley became commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Service in September, pledging to reform a department that had been rocked by a series of scandals, including the arrest of an on-duty officer for the kidnapping and murder of a young woman.

In March, police issued an apology after an independent review found the department had lost public trust due to deep-rooted racism, misogyny and homophobia.

“I’m clear we have a lot to do,” Rowley said in her letter to Tatchell. “I am sorry for all the communities we have let down for the failures of the past and look forward to building a new Met for London that all Londoners can be proud of and trust in.”

Tatchell thanked Rowley for being the first UK police chief to apologize for the “decades-long victimization” of the LGBTQ+ community.

“His apology is a revolutionary step forward that we hope will inspire other police forces to follow suit,” Tatchell said. “It draws a line under the Met’s past persecution. This will help build LGBT+ confidence in the police, encouraging more LGBT people to report hate crimes, domestic violence and sexual assaults. »

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