Picture credit: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images for Pride in London
Artillery Row

SEEN should be heard

A new group aims to remind the police to act without fear or favour

It’s unsettling to listen to serving police officers explain that their colleagues don’t understand the law. But what’s more disturbing is when those same officers are terrified to be open about their own lawful beliefs, when they feel they can only express them anonymously. 

Last Monday saw the launch of SEEN (Sex Equality and Equity Network), which describes itself as a “voice for police officers and staff who believe in biological reality and support the safety, rights and dignity of women and children”.

The problem, according to founders of Police SEEN isn’t just that officers are woefully “misinformed about the law”, it’s that they are attempting to police belief according to what trans lobby groups have told them. With sessions on everything from pronouns to Pride baked into police training, Police SEEN says forces across the country are now “saturated with gender ideology” and becoming increasingly out of step with the public.

Two of the founders, who were anxious not to be made identifiable, tell me they have been inundated with requests to join. Prospective members have given chilling accounts of officers being victimised for challenging trans ideology. Despite having spent their whole professional lives facing down criminals, the serving officers I spoke with are worried about the repercussions for those within the police who come out as gender critical.

“People in the police are terrified, really scared. And they have reason to be. My views have made me unpopular in the force, and all of us members have all had to assess the risk before speaking out,” says one:

I’ve been formally disciplined and referred to the professional standards department for asking questions about trans training. I’ve also been warned to stop speaking out on the issue by officers of higher rank.

Another of the Police SEEN group says she has also faced hostility from her colleagues and those in positions of authority. 

My gender critical beliefs are lawful, and I will continue to express them. I think policing in the UK has a misogyny problem, but that can’t be addressed until we can all agree what a woman is without being told definitions are offensive.

She adds that years of attempts to sound the alarm about the influence of trans lobby groups have been ignored:

We tried to raise concerns through the official police channels, but it was as if we were speaking a different language. Even just asking questions about sex and gender identity was treated as offensive and hateful.

The officers behind Police SEEN believe that a gulf has developed between mainstream public opinion and the culture within the police. This, they argue, is because those in positions of authority are probably “aware that they got things wrong in the past”. To move past their unedifying reputation as institutionally prejudiced, organisations like the College of Policing have turned to groups like Stonewall and LGBT Foundation. It seems those making the decisions are unaware of the controversial nature of the ideology that these groups now espouse. Nor, it seems, are the forces of law and order aware of the multitude of court cases warning employers not to discriminate on the basis of gender critical beliefs.

Police SEEN suspect activist influence within the College of Policing is impacting on the training offered.

We’re also getting informal diversity training sessions, some of which are directly run by lobbyists. We don’t have to attend, but you know, people who want a promotion or want to keep up with equality and diversity are going along.

Concerns about this bias in Diversity and Inclusion departments have been ignored. In 2022, a member of SEEN complained to professional standards about mandatory trans training which included a video she describes as “misleading and unlawful piece of propaganda”:

They forwarded the complaint to the learning department and said that the chief inspector would be back in touch with me soon. And two years later, I’m still waiting for that response.

She reflects that while there “might be some ideologues who take personal beliefs into their professional role,” the broader problem is that thanks to training influenced by gender ideology most officers are now simply unaware of what the Equality Act says.

Indeed, the undue influence of activists within the police force has not gone unnoticed by the Home Office

Police SEEN agree that by blindly following guidance written by trans activists, forces across the country are opening themselves up to potential legal challenges from all sides. Indeed, the undue influence of activists within the police force has not gone unnoticed by the Home Office.

In September 2023, then Home Secretary Suella Braverman commissioned His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to inspect activism and impartiality in policing. The members of Police SEEN that I spoke with believe that attempts may have been made to sway the results. 

They say it took a challenge from one of Police SEEN founders for the HMICFR survey to be circulated to all staff members, rather than simply within closed groups. But even when it was made available to this was done “quietly so as to avoid bringing attention to it.” 

Yet despite such efforts, the interim HMICFRS report noted there was a “lack of clarity” in how officers interpret the Equality Act. The report notes:

In particular, this is seen in the contested areas of: sex and gender reassignment; what constitutes a genuinely held belief; and when such beliefs are themselves protected under the Act [Equality Act 2010}. Without greater clarity, there is a risk that officers and staff may make the wrong decisions and, in so doing, undermine public trust and confidence.

For one of the Police SEEN founders the “drift away from reality and law” is not only embarrassing, but makes it much harder for her to do her job: 

How am I supposed to gain trust when the public now routinely see the police embarrassing themselves? When officers are shown promoting trans ideology and ignoring the law? We need to rebuild trust now. The way to do that is to get back to facts, figures, and fair policing.

Police SEEN believe that to regain the trust of the public the police must once more learn to police without fear or favour, and this will require pushback against dangerous ideologies from inside Britain’s police forces. 

“We’ve drifted away from reality and law that’s not only embarrassing, it’s also really frightening as well. To those on the outside, it must feel terrifying to see how captured police forces are. And for those of us within SEEN Police it feels exactly the same – it’s utterly terrifying.”

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