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Surrey rejects PCC's criticism of "divisive" LGBT rights group

Surrey Police has said it will continue to be a member of Stonewall describing it as a “force for good” despite the Police and Crime Commissioner calling it a waste of tax payers' money.

Stonewall is a LGBT rights charity that a number of police forces subscribe to receive guidance on issues around diversity.

But one force's PCC has publicly criticised Stonewall’s support of the right of transgender women to access female only spaces, calling it a "dangerous ideology that threatens the safety of our women and girls".

Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend told the Daily Mail: “Stonewall, which has drifted so far from its original mission is now a threat to women and risks putting feminism back 50 years.

“Police forces, in an attempt to correct many of the wrongs committed against minorities in the past, are being naive if they believe that Stonewall are anything but a well-funded lobby group for a dangerous ideology that threatens the safety of our women and girls.”

PCC Townsend, the successful Conservative candidate in this year’s election, says she is inundated with emails from fearful female residents about people who only need to identify as female to access women-only spaces.

She went on to say: "Everybody has told me not to speak-out about this, that the debate is incendiary, but if women like me can't or don't speak up who will?"

She also said she'd received a letter from a female prison officer who had been asked to search a transwoman in custody.

But Surrey Police  has said it will follow the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice guidelines so anyone who identifies as trans and non-binary and subject to detention and searches is “treated respectfully and that the correct procedures are followed in order to determine their preferred gender”.

It added: “We also worked closely with Stonewall to provide guidance and support to enable line managers, supervisors and colleagues to provide an inclusive environment, to ensure our trans colleagues have the most positive and supportive experience in the workplace, and a thriving career in policing. This was subsequently adopted as national guidance which will have benefited many policing colleagues across the country.”

The force said Stonewall helps its understanding of LGBT identities and experiences and enables it to improve inclusion for LGBT colleagues.

The force championed the way Stonewall has helped their approach to recruitment, inclusion and progression in the workplace, and said Surrey Police was “absolutely committed to progressing equality and inclusion across all protected characteristics” and to ensure that everyone, including the local communities “is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve”.

PCC Townsend told Police Oracle: “I have not, and would not demand that Surrey Police stop using Stonewall. I’ve made my views very clear to the Chief Constable from day one; that I don’t believe membership of Stonewall is a good use of Surrey tax payers' money, given how divisive they are even within the LGBT community.

"I don’t believe we need Stonewall in order to ensure we are inclusive, and other forces and public bodies have clearly also come to this conclusion.”

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