Police force is Britain's most gay friendly employer

Matt Sibley | January 17, 2006

STAFFORDSHIRE, UK — A British police force has been named the country's number one employer for gays and lesbians.

Just over 10% of the police officers at the Staffordshire force is lesbian or gay. The figure was put down to the force actively encouraging the recruitment of gay and lesbian officers and the setting up of a scheme to give an accurate picture of homophobic attacks.

In the list of the 100 most gay-friendly employers, IBM came second with the Department for Work and Pensions and Manchester City Council tied for third. Stonewall, the gay rights group that runs the 'Workplace Equality Index', said a factor in Staffordshire's success was its record of promoting lesbian and gay officers to a high level.

The force runs a scheme called 'True Vision', intended to give an accurate picture of levels of homophobic, as well as racist and religious crimes by allowing people to report incidents anonymously. Staffordshire Chief Constable John Gifford said that he was delighted by the findings. He went on to say that the accolade "recognises the work Staffordshire Police has undertaken to promote equality and diversity in our employment practice."

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: "Like everyone else, the police are waking up to the fact that unless they promote policies to recruit and retain gay people, they risk losing a valuable source of labour and talent."

The force was ridiculed in 1997 for sending officers into public toilets in a Stoke-on-Trent park to spy through peep holes on gay men engaging in sex acts. They made 21 arrests.

The 2006 'Workplace Equality Index' included eight FTSE-100 companies and 11 government departments. Others at the top of the league include Credit Suisse First Boston and British Telecom. www.queernetwork.co.ukIssued by Gay Link Content

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