On the occasion of Bourne Free LGBT Pride Festival 2019, the Network’s lead Alan Mercel-Sanca was delighted to meet David Sidwick, the Conservative candidate for Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, in next year’s PCC election, who was showing his support for Pride. David shared that he had come to Pride to further support his listening & learning LGBT community engagement, to hear from community members and those organisations and businesses with information stalls at Pride, about what their areas of interest and concern are regarding police, policing, crime prevention and tackling anti-LGBT ASB.
As a result, the LGB&T Dorset Equality Network, invited David to take part in an interview a few days later. Below are the interview questions and contexts to these, with David’s responses which were comprehensive and very cheering to hear, and constituted a powerful platform for much greater support for our community, and not as tepid to tick box approach.
The Network was so pleased to see that David Sidwick is clearly a very real and substantial LGBT community ‘Ally,’ and to know he is going to be keeping in touch with the Network on the areas discussed in the interview, and beyond these, to on a regular basis be listening too and responding to matters and policing, ASB and safety and inclusion matters directly of importance to our community. David emphasised that he will be prompt in replying to the Network and through it, community members, and be doing so directly with care and enthusiasm. This is such a refreshing approach to what all too often community members in positions of real and often serious need have been used to in regard to some aspects of tackling anti-LGBT ASB!
Alan Mercel-Sanca. Convenor / Lead Officer. LGB&T Dorset Equality Network
Interview questions & responses:
Thank you very much for all of the very proactive LGBT community inclusion and counteracting anti-LGBT Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) from street to schools, sports and employment settings perspectives you shared with us the other day at Pride. We are really pleased that you have offered to provide this interview with the Network.
Convenor / Lead Officer
LGB&T Dorset Equality Network
QUESTIONS & RESPONSES:
We are aware of good frontline police officers, but over the past few years increasingly as a police force, remoteness from direct contact with our community has become all too common.
We would like to see this changed, including reinstituting the concept of a Lesbian and Gay Liaison Officer (LAGLO), which was very successful for years in Dorset until the post was removed by a rationalisation exercise, that found LGBT community voice excluded from.
Instituting a LAGLO officer for the conurbation, and one for the county (both have different LGBT and anti-LGBT ASB demographics) would help counteract ASB and all its costs to the economy and community, and make for credible community policing, and see an end to PR gesture and tick box cultures are concerned.
We would like your views on the LAGLO proposal and related resetting of Dorset & BCP area policing in regard to improving LGBT confidence in policing and police services?
Firstly Alan, I am delighted to be interviewed. My intent once elected is to work for not the many, not the few but for everyone no matter what their gender, race or religious persuasion.
I’d like to take that further and make it clear that I will be holding the police to account particular regarding the Peelian principle of showing no favour to any individual or body above others but their duty only to the law. In the purest meaning of the words the police need to be apolitical, unbiased and unprejudiced towards the citizens they serve and protect. Great progress has been made in that regard but there is more to be done.
The issue for any candidate at this time is that it is too early to make manifesto commitments. I am also conflicted on this particular request. Having spoken to Hampshire LAGLO officers I understand how they operate there. The argument for not having LAGLOs is dependent on the level of acceptance by the police as a whole.
If a full understanding of the needs of the LGBT community together with appropriate empathy and trust is embedded across the Dorset force then is there a need especially when such a role may increase differences? Surely for years the LGBT community have fought to be treated the same so let’s not create barriers to that.
The commitment that I will give will be to look at this both in the context of the force’s sophistication and the community’s level of trust. Then depending on that the best approach to support the community will be taken.
We are delighted to have learned of your prioritisation of counteracting ASB. If you are elected as Dorset PCC, what measures and actions will you take to improve outreach to LGBTs facing ASB and bullying?
This is one of the primary reasons for becoming interested in the role. ASB or how I prefer to refer to it – Quality of Life Crime is an area that is too high in Dorset. This affects all communities though I am aware that the LGBT can get more than their fair share. So how can this be addressed. There are four main ways:-
a/ More visible neighbourhood policing – to get there this will need a combination of all or some of the following – more funding so we have more police, a review of current tasking to see if more front-line officers may be made available, a review of police powers – do PCSOs use all the powers they could for example – and finally better connectivity between the police we do have and the community.
Regarding the first point – I have asked both the current Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP and the two leadership candidates Jeremy Hunt MP and Boris Johnson MP regarding increased core funding and received a positive response. Boris went further and committed to reviewing the National Funding Formula so that rural and mixed forces such as Dorset received an increased fairer amount. Since then he has become Prime Minister and is making good on those commitments.
b/ A clear strategic priority to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. This was the reason for setting up the police in the first place. This should now be I believe the first priority in any police and crime plan.
c/ Strengthened communities – the stronger and more integrated a community is, the more likely it will be able to defeat ASB. The reason is that being strong and knowing everyone is in it for the same thing makes you more likely to report and call out bad behaviour. So communities that treat all individuals equal and work for the common good have less trouble than those divided into partisan groups. In order to build that individuals need to start reporting crime and ASB – police resourcing follows reports so suffering in silence weakens the community.
d/ A greater emphasis on education for primary schoolchildren and information for their parents on the three Rs – not reading ‘riting and ‘rithmetic but the far more important Rights, Responsibilities and Respect. Currently it appears to stop at the first one. As part of this I would suggest we devote funding to a campaign designed to give our children the moral resilience to reject temptation. By imbuing the old fashion value of respect with a robustness to question what is right or wrong perhaps we will be able to change the generations going forward away from the “I can do anything and get away with it” culture.
None of the above is easy but there is a direction of travel there that I would suggest together we should undertake.
The Network and many in the private sector have and continue to encounter frustrations with wont of substantial, community and businesses level engagement with aspects of policing support, particularly at strategic level. In particular deployment of police resources has been far from adequate, and especially in the terms of listening to and acting on community and private sector suggestions to improve this. If you are elected would you work with us on initiating a comprehensive review, and forming a council type body that is composed of private sector and diverse (BME, LGBT, etc.) that can work with you on implementing your anti-ASB strategic priorities?
I would need to understand the mechanisms for feedback and interaction that are currently available. In theory though I would be open to discussion on better interconnectivity. I am keen to hear business views and LGBT views as well as the wider community and see how police resources are best deployed for the good of us all.
We would like to request if you are elected as PCC to work with us at the Network to review and reform the current LGBT inclusion and anti-prejudice training and monitoring of training that Dorset Police and those working with them in the local authorities, have. Your views on this will be most welcome …
I will give you a commitment to ask the Chief Constable about the training and see what review is required. This fits with the need to understand the force in this area in order to assess the utility or not of a LAGLO.
You will be aware of the issues experienced at Parkfield School and other schools in the West Midlands and elsewhere in regard to teaching about different families and LGBT inclusion, to counteract homophobia in classroom and schooling settings. We at the Network believe in sharing different forms of diversity, and different diverse communities stretching out their hands to each other to build our contemporary diverse, inclusive nation and general society.
How would you see working with us to prevent the type of polarisation and threat to modern contemporary inclusive values and related compliance with the Law (Equality Act 2010 legal obligations and provisions) incidents that have been happening in the West Midlands, be avoided or dealt with effectively, here?
We ask this because we have had instances here in Dorset of poor judgment on the part of statutory sector civil servants and associate organisations, almost causing comparable religion-based clashes with work to counteract anti-LGBT ASB and anti-LGBT views.
I am absolutely clear that the protest is unacceptable. The way to address the curriculum is via the local MP, the ballot box and democracy. This is not the correct set of values to give our children either with the subject of the protest or the protest itself. Interestingly most mainstream religious groups would agree with that- as ever it is the extremists who colour the narrative.
Finally, do you have a message for Dorset area LGB&T community members that you would like to share on reflecting back on your experience of the very recent occasion of Bourne Free LGBT Pride, with the LGB&T Dorset Equality Network?
Yes I do. It was a pleasure to attend Bourne Free LGBT Pride and see the celebration of diversity and joy that it was. I have many gay friends and my step-niece gained a wife recently – the generations are becoming more tolerant and accepting. Be open and not separatist – let’s build that truly inclusive society and get to the point when an individual is measured on the quality of their human heart and not their gender, race or religion. If I am elected, I will be working for Everyone!
David, thank you very much indeed for your responses to our questions. The Network thanks you very much for your time and particularly your readiness to answer so fully all of our questions. By way of thanks we would also like to, where relevant, be in contact with you on any LGBT community support specific points where we may from time to time contact our Dorset Police Chief Constable and relevant officers, for your perspectives on the topics involved.
David has also shared his PCC campaign social media links so you can follow his campaign and its information on the important topics the latter details: Facebook: @
Convenor / Lead Officer
LGB&T Dorset Equality Network