Leading Chief Constable urges all police chiefs to apologise to LGBTs

Vanessa Jardine of Northumbria Police pledges new National LGBTQ+ Strategy


Sixteenth police forces have now said sorry
Many have enacted new LGBT+ policies


23 April 2024 – London

Northumbria’s Chief Constable, Vanessa Jardine, has made a formal apology to the LGBT+ community and is urging all Chief Constables to do the same: to say sorry for past homophobic witch-hunts and discriminatory law enforcement.

Ms Jardine, who leads on LGBT+ matters on the National Police Chiefs Council, said in a letter to LGBT+ campaigner Peter Tatchell:

“As the portfolio holder with the National Police Chiefs Council, I will continue to encourage colleagues to review your request for an apology. I am also working on a National LGBTQ+ Strategy which I am hoping will be seen as another positive step towards building a more inclusive future.”

Jardine went on to express regret for the harm caused by the often abusive way her officers previously enforced historic anti-LGBT+ laws. She said her response is “an official apology from Northumbria Police.” She added that she was “sorry” for “how past discrimination has undermined LGBTQ+ confidence.”

The Chief Constable’s full letter can be read here.

Jardine is the sixteenth UK police chief to apologise, following similar apologies by the heads of the Metropolitan, City of London, Sussex, South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Gwent, Avon & Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire, Dorset, West Mercia, North Yorkshire, Wiltshire, Devon & Cornwall and Nottinghamshire forces.

Peter Tatchell expressed gratitude for Vanessa Jardine’s apology:

“My immense gratitude to Vanessa Jardine for her forthright apology to the LGBT+ community on behalf of Northumbria Police – and for the positive, supportive and inclusive LGBT+ policies he set out in her letter to me.

“Some people in power find it hard to say sorry for past wrongs. Vanessa Jardine didn’t hesitate or evade the need for a clear apology. That marks her out as a commendable police chief. We thank her and her officers.

“As the national LGBT+ lead on the National Police Chiefs Council she has an unparalleled insight into the harm caused by homophobia in British policing. We are grateful that she is asking all her fellow chiefs to commit to an apology. I hope all forces will now do so.”

Mr Tatchell noted:

“West Midlands Police, one of Britain’s most historically homophobic forces, has refused to say sorry, and so have North Wales. Greater Manchester and Liverpool Police have yet to respond to our requests. There’s also been no response from police chiefs in Scotland and Northern Ireland, despite repeated reminders. This sends a very negative, even hostile, message to the LGBT+ community.”

Vanessa Jardine’s apology is in response to the #ApologiseNow campaign initiated by the Peter Tatchell Foundation. The campaign was backed by comedian and TV presenter Paul O’Grady before his untimely passing.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation continues to urge every Chief Constable in the UK to apologise for their force’s historic homophobic persecution in decades past. We are chasing the remaining 29 police forces that have not said sorry.

The #ApologiseNow petition can be read and signed at ApologiseNow.com