The Chief Constable Gary Roberts has today, 5th August 2022, released a letter, given to the Isle of Pride committee, in which he seeks to draw a line under events from the past in order to try to reset relationships between the police and the LGBTQ+ community.
In the letter the Chief Constable acknowledges that the Police must always uphold the law but apologises for the way that this was sometimes done in relation to a law that at the time criminalised homosexuality.
The letter follows extensive discussions between the Chief Constable and representatives of various bodies, including the Isle of Pride committee, the Constabulary’s inclusion scrutiny group, the Isle of Man Police Federation, the Isle of Man branch of the National Association of Retired Police Officers, and the National Police Chiefs Council. Additionally, the Chief Constable has heard from individual members of the community about their own personal experiences in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
The letter, which comprises 2250 words, offers a comprehensive assessment of how the police enforced legislation, which criminalised homosexual relations. It seeks to set in context how the police enforced the law and explains that police officers had no choice but to carry out the wishes of Tynwald.
It also acknowledges that sometimes the way that this was done, because of organisational and societal norms of the time, caused people from the LGBTQ+ community distress. Whilst the Chief Constable has not – and cannot – apologise for the enforcement of the law, as police officers take an oath that requires them to enforce it, he has offered an apology for the way that this was sometimes done. In doing so, he reflects on how societal norms have changed, how expectations of policing have changed and how what was expected in the past is often now unacceptable.
The Chief Constable accepts that not everyone will welcome the letter. Some people may feel that he has not gone far enough, while others may think he has gone too far. However, he has sought to find the right balance that reflects the need to try to move forward, but whilst acknowledging that generations of police officers believed that they were doing the right thing. He stresses how much society has changed and how much the Isle of Man Constabulary has also changed, becoming much more diverse and more reflective of the community.
Read the full letter by following the link below.