Met Police announce LGBT+ liaison officers in bid to restore trust after years of failings 

Peter Tatchell talking to the West Midlands Police chief while walking in a Pride march, surrounded by police holding rainbow flags

The Met Police has announced it will restore LGBT+ liaison officers in an attempt at “rebuilding trust” within the LGBTQ+ community in London, following a recent apology from the force for years of failings.

On Monday (12 June), the Met Police announced it is restoring full-time LGBT+ liaison officers as a “crucial part of the mission for more trust” within the queer community.

The announcement follows Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley admitting to “failings of the past” after being urged to apologise to the LGBTQ+ community by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

In a letter addressed to the activist and founder of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, Rowley acknowledged that the Met has had “systems and processes in place which have led to bias and discrimination”.

LGBT+ liaison officers will be brought in to address Baroness Casey’s report which criticised Met police for its lack of accountability, especially when dealing with marginalised groups, and as part of Rowley’s, commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.

‘A good start’

A bid to increase trust between the Met and the queer community follows its failed investigation into serial killer Stephen Port and the four young, gay victims whose lives he stole: Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor.

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Tatchell told PinkNews: “The restoration of LGBT+ Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) is a good start.

“There is still a long way to go but this will help rebuild trust and confidence in the police.

“With dedicated, specialist LGBT+ liaison officers, it will encourage more LGBTs to report crime and get police support when they are victims.”

Commissioner Rowley in his Met uniform infront of a New Scotland Yard sign
Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley apologised for the Met’s past failings on 7 June. (Getty)

Rowley said of the initiative: “I am clear that there is much for us to do. I am sorry to all of the communities we have let down for the failings of the past and look forward to building a new Met for London, one all Londoners can be proud of and in which they can have confidence.”

The CLOs will work closely with community members and the LGBT+ Independent Advisory Group and will support the public on LGBT+ issues in addition to their day-to-day duties.

Tatchell added: “We know from past experience that when the police have specialist officers, LGBT+ people have greater confidence and are more likely to report violent attacks, domestic violence and sexual assaults.

“These LGBT+ community liaison officers are the first new initiative in the Met’s forthcoming LGBT+ plan for London. It’s positive progress after last Wednesday’s apology for past police witch-hunts.”

Majority of LGBTQ+ hate crimes go unreported

The majority of LGBTQ+ hate crime victims fail to report to police because they feel it’s “too minor” and they don’t trust the service, a 2022 study revealed.

A sharp increase in queer hate crimes nationwide was noted that same year, with Home Office figures detailing at least 155,841 recorded hate crimes from March 2021 to March 2022.

PC Sam Varnham, a CLO for Harrow, Barnet and Brent, said in his role he will “get to know my local community and help to build bridges so we can support LGBT+ people better and work together”.

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.