PSNI must not participate in political activity whilst in uniform

The DUP’s lead Policing Board representative Trevor Clarke has welcomed the announcement that PSNI officers and staff will not be permitted to participate in uniform in this year’s Belfast Pride parade.

By Trevor Clarke MLA

South Antrim

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Responding to the news, the South Antrim DUP MLA said:

‘‘I am pleased that the PSNI will now prevent uniformed officers from participating in Pride parades.

We cannot bury our heads in the sand and ignore the fact that these events are heavily politicised. Pride has previously been a vehicle for the campaigns to redefine marriage and more recently attention has turned to promoting transgender rights. These are sensitive and deeply contested issues. The perception that the PSNI is advocating for a particular cause would therefore be hugely damaging to public confidence.

That is not to say police officers should surrender any right to take part in political activity and endorse causes close their heart. However the PSNI Code of Ethics and the internal guidance governing off-duty behaviour are unequivocal that officers and staff are prohibited from wearing their uniform when doing so. The reality is that in recent years, the PSNI’s organisational approach to Pride has failed to meet its own criteria let alone the expectations of the public.

The Chief Constable, the rest of the senior team and every rank-and-file officer has a statutory duty to act fairly, impartially and with integrity. If the PSNI is to be a Police Service that serves the entire community, every group, tradition and belief must be accorded equal respect.

It is important to note that many of those outraged by what they view as an attack on LGBT+ officers have shown little concern for the plight of those officers from a Protestant and unionist background who are singled out and unfairly required to notify their membership of the Loyal Orders in conflict with their right to privacy and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

This anomaly must also be addressed if the PSNI is to be fair and representative in its dealings inside and outside the organisation. We will be aiming to secure further progress in the coming weeks.’’

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