Concern voiced over gay pride flag flyin

POLICE chiefs' decision to hoist a gay pride flag over Suffolk stations has been questioned by MPs.

Will Clarke

POLICE chiefs' decision to hoist a gay pride flag over Suffolk stations has been questioned by MPs.

The rainbow flag - celebrating Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history month - has been raised over stations in Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds - as well as Suffolk County Council offices in Ipswich.

But Tim Yeo MP for South Suffolk said championing a particular cause was not the role people in Suffolk wanted the police to be doing.

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“What people in Suffolk want is an effective police force, preventing and solving crime - people want a 100% of their effort concerned with that,” he said.

“It is quite right the police should be an inclusive employer but it is not right for any other public body to be campaigning for a particular group.

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“The police need to ask themselves, is this helping them do the job the people of Suffolk want them to do.”

David Ruffley, Bury St Edmunds MP and shadow policing minister, said he would be writing to the chief constable to petition him to fly a range of flags in support of a variety of causes.

He said: “I am all for diversity in the police service and I also hope these police stations in Suffolk will also fly flags to commemorate British service personnel who have fallen or been injured in battle.”

A Suffolk police spokesman said: “This flag is not only a symbol of LGBT pride but is also a recognised symbol worldwide of diversity, equality and inclusiveness. By flying the flag we hope to demonstrate the organisation's commitment to achieving an inclusive workforce.

“This is a message we'd like to promote to the wider public, our staff and also anyone who is considering a career with us.

“Providing a high quality police service, while making sure communities value and trust what we do, depends on all our staff understanding, respecting and valuing the wealth of diversity in the communities we serve. The constabulary is committed to eliminating discrimination, to promoting good relations, and to promoting positive attitudes towards others.”

A spokeswoman, for the LGBT group, said: “We applaud the police for flying the flag because they are sending out an important message.

“The police are recognising they need to do a lot of proactive work to send out a message of trust to minority groups.

“By flying the flag the police are saying acknowledge and want to work with LGBT groups and to pick up the crimes, which previously have gone unreported. They are saying trust us.”

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “We are proud to support LGBT month. Suffolk is an inclusive county council and I am very proud of that.”

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