Why rainbow flags are flying outside police stations across West Yorkshire this month

Chief Constable Dee Collins raises one of the rainbow flags being flown outside West Yorkshire Police stations this month.
Chief Constable Dee Collins raises one of the rainbow flags being flown outside West Yorkshire Police stations this month.

Rainbow coloured flags are being flown outside police stations across West Yorkshire in support of LGBT History Month.

It aims to promote equality and diversity by increasing the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, their history, lives and their experiences.

The month also aims to raise awareness and advancing education on matters affecting the LGBT community.

Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said: “Throughout February, we will be raising awareness and celebrating the achievements of the LGBT communities across West Yorkshire. I am very proud that as a force we are showing our support, not just this month – but all year round.

“This month the Stonewall Workplace Index announced that West Yorkshire Police dramatically improved its ranking, which is a fantastic achievement and reflects the work we have been doing to continue to provide an inclusive workplace."

The Workplace Equality Index is the definitive benchmarking tool for employers to measure their progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion within the workplace.

Ms Hankinson said: “Our society’s understanding and acceptance of all sexual orientation and gender identities has come a long way but unfortunately, there still remains a small minority who think it is acceptable to target and discriminate someone because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Being who you are is not a crime and is something that you should be proud of but targeting a particular individual because of their perceived differences is abhorrent and something that West Yorkshire Police will not be tolerate.

“We would urge anyone who has been a victim of, or witnessed, a hate crime or incident to report it to us. That way we can ensure that it is dealt with, with support put in place and appropriate action taken against those responsible."

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, has also spoken in support of LGBT History Month.

"The diversity of our communities here in West Yorkshire is one of our greatest strengths so it’s very important to me that we recognise this generally and offer our support to LGBT History Month," he said.

“West Yorkshire Police have done some fantastic work both in our communities and internally to promote diversity and inclusivity. Seeing the recognition from Stonewall, coupled with the rainbow flags flying outside police buildings is very positive and progressive.  

"Unfortunately there are those in our society who feel the need to abuse people because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. However, we absolutely do not and should not tolerate this type of behaviour.

"West Yorkshire Police and our partners will take robust action against those perpetrating any form of hate crime and provide appropriate support to victims. I would anyone who feels they may have been a victim to report it, either to the police or through other third party channels such the ground breaking Stop Hate UK App which I have helped to develop and fund here in West Yorkshire.”

Anyone with information about a hate incident is asked to report it either by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency, online at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/hatecrime or www.report-it.org.uk or in person at a police station.

Alternatively, there are independent Hate Incident Reporting Centres (HIRCs) across West Yorkshire for anyone who does not want to speak directly to the police. To find your nearest centre visit the West Yorkshire Police website.