Wiltshire police apologise to LGBT+ community for past witch-hunts

It’s the eleventh police force to say sorry to LGBTs

26 February 2024


Wiltshire’s Chief Constable, Catherine Roper, has made a formal apology to the LGBT+ community, acknowledging past homophobic witch-hunts and discriminatory law enforcement.

In a letter to LGBT+ campaigner Peter Tatchell, Roper expressed regret for the harm caused by the often abusive way the police enforced historic anti-LGBT+ laws:

It is clear that in the past, the implementation of the Law – and the

discretion we are given as Police Officers in the policing of the Law – was in some cases misused and misapplied, whether through processes, systems or behaviour.

“I have no doubt that this means there will have been prejudiced behaviour across the history of policing where we haven’t got things right and which will have caused discrimination and hurt to many minority groups, including the LGBTQ+ community. This saddens me deeply and I am truly sorry for the harm caused, both to my internal colleagues, and to our communities,” Roper wrote.

Roper is the eleventh 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, West Mercia and Nottinghamshire forces.

Her 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 Chief Constable’s full letter can be read here

Peter Tatchell expressed gratitude for Catherine Roper’s apology:

“My immense gratitude to Catherine Roper for her forthright apology to the LGBT+ community on behalf of Wiltshire police, and for her commitment to a community consultation to develop a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy. 

“Some people in power find it hard to say sorry for past wrongs. Catherine Roper 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.  

“This apology does the Wiltshire police proud and will win much appreciation and praise from the LGBT+ community. It will go a long way towards securing a more constructive, collaborative relationship between Wiltshire police and LGBT+ people – further building trust and cooperation. It is a laudable continuation of the great work the police have been doing in recent years. I hope it will inspire more LGBTs to report hate crime, domestic abuse and sexual assaults, which is what we all want,” said Mr Tatchell.

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.

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