The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Service Executive Team has taken the decision that whilst police will still attend and participate in Belfast Pride events this year, its officers and staff will not participate in police uniform in the Pride parade.
Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton, Gold Commander for Belfast Pride, said: “Having personally engaged with members of the LGBTQIA+ community at a number of events in recent months and met with our own LGBT+ Network on this issue, I know that this decision will come as a disappointment to some.
“As a Police Service, we have had to carefully consider this request from our LGBT+ Network on its merits, the stated purposes and circumstances surrounding the parade and our statutory obligations to act with fairness, integrity and impartiality, whilst upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all individuals, their traditions and beliefs.
“Our broader participation in this and other Pride events continues to be an important element of our outreach and engagement highlighting the valuable role that LGBTQIA+ officers and staff play in our service, that we are an employer and service for all and that hate crime in whatever form is wrong.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland revisited our 2017 decision following this year’s request from our LGBT+ Network as part of ongoing work to ensure that as both an employer and a public body we are consistent and fair in our decision making around all requests from officers and staff to participate in events.
Police Service Policy on ‘Off Duty Standards’ and our Code of Ethics, both drawn from our statutory obligations, create clear expectations for all officers and staff in terms of our impartiality and prohibit officers from wearing their uniform or being identifiable as police when engaging in ‘cause issues’.
Existing Service Policy does however state that officers and staff can participate in such events provided they do so in a personal capacity and do not identify as members of the Police Service.