In a letter addressed to LGBTQ+ campaigner Peter Tatchell, the Metropolitan Police (Met) Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley became the first UK police chief to apologize on Wednesday for the force’s homophobic failings.
Rowely accepted that the Met “had systems and processes in place which have led to bias and discrimination in the law we have policed London’s communities, and in the way we have treated our officers and staff, over many decades.” A recent public survey showed that between 2015-16 and 2021-22, the general trust of the police by LGBTQ+ respondents fell by 20 percent, as compared to a fall of 12 percent by those who do not identify as LGBTQ+.
“Recent cases of appalling behaviour by some officers have revealed that there are still…homophobes and transphobes in the organisation, and we have already doubled down on rooting out those who corrupt and abuse their position,” Rowley continued. “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.”
Rowley’s statements come only a few months after a March review, conducted by Baroness Louise Casey, which found that the Met was institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic. The review also found that there were widespread cases of bullying towards LGBTQ+ staff and officers within the Met. 35 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents in the review reported experiencing bullying at least once or twice a week.
As part of his #ApologiseNow campaign, Tatchell called on all UK police services to apologize for their historic ill-treatment, persecution and “decades-long victimisation” of the LGBTQ+ community. Tatchell described Wednesday’s apology as “a ground-breaking step forward…draw[ing] a line under past Met prosecution.”