The annual general meeting of the Wales LGBT+ Police Network was held in Bangor last week.
In partnership with Bangor University, the event brought together all four branches of the Welsh Police LGBT+ staff support network, who discussed the progress of the network, and planned priorities for the year ahead. It was a great opportunity for LGBT+ network members and allies to learn more about the network, membership development and networking opportunities.
The event, held on Friday 30th June was opened by Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman, followed by several guest speakers from all four Welsh forces as well as GISDA who provide support and opportunities for vulnerable young people in the Gwynedd area. It also focused on a number of specific areas such as the culture experienced by LGBT+ officers and staff in Wales and future priorities for the network as well as highlights from the 2023 World LGBTIQ+ Conference held in Australia.
The event also included the presentation of the Wales LGBT+ Police Network Excellence Award which went to PCSO Connor Freel from North Wales Police who works in the Flintshire South area. As well as his PCSO role, Connor volunteers as an LGBT+ Staff Support Liaison and has been instrumental in supporting the LGBT+ community both inside and outside the of Police.
As a transgender officer, Connor spends much of his spare time working with the community to stand up for those that are prejudiced and discriminated against. Since joining North Wales Police in 2015 he has worked hard to address these issues by supporting training & development of Police officers and staff in relation to equality and specifically transgender issues, working collaboratively on training content for officers about dealing with transgender victims of crime and lecturing at Wrexham Glyndwr University about equality, diversity and inclusion and societal attitudes.
Connor said “I’m incredibly proud to be a part of the fantastic work being done by the Wales LGBT+ Police Network to promote, support and encourage positive changes for our LGBT+ staff and officers across the Police Forces in Wales.
Collectively we use our knowledge, experience and passion to drive forwards change in order to give our staff the opportunity to be the best version of themselves they can be. This then translates into the skills they bring to their individual roles in order to best serve the communities we joined the Police to protect.
I’m so honoured to have been presented with this award. I’m filled with gratitude for the support, advice and encouragement of my fantastic colleagues within the network and my wider Policing family, without which this opportunity to raise awareness would not be possible.”
Chief Constable Blakeman said “The value Connor brings to policing is not just the amount of advice, guidance and support he provides to individuals and the organisation, but also his proactive nature and the quality of his work that stands out. He is a real asset to the Police Service and to the Police LGBT+ Network and is very deserving of this recognition of his value to the network.”
Head of Learning & Development and Co-Chair of the Wales LGBT+ Police Network Julie Brierley said “I have been privileged to be a Co-Chair of the Wales Police LGBT+ network for the last 2 years and to work together with Inspector Ian Roberts as other Co-Chairs to support the network members and our colleagues.
Together we can amplify the voices of LGBT+ colleagues and provide a safe space to listen to any ideas and challenges for creating an inclusive environment.
I look forward to the continued networking across all forces to contribute towards becoming an inclusive workplace for all our people.”
What is the Welsh Police LGBT+ Network?
The Welsh Police LGBT+ Network is a support association in collaboration with South Wales, Gwent and Dyfed Powys Police services. The mission of the network is to ensure Police Services and other Crime Agencies promote inclusiveness and equality of opportunity for our LGBT+ staff whilst working towards an organisation that is reflective of our diverse communities.
The network aims to create and share best practice, training and event opportunities across the country and also challenge organisations across Wales and the UK to improve the experiences of LGBT+ people, together.
Its main aim is to achieve a working environment that is free from direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation in the form of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. We work to achieve this by:
Creating equal opportunities for LGBT+ police service employees within all aspects of policing
Offering advice and support to LGBT+ police service employees and assisting forces in policy development
Working towards better relations between the police service and the LGBT+ communities in Wales
Actively participating in national efforts through our engagement with the National LGBT+ Police Network
Arranging and attending LGBT+ events across Wales and the UK
The Wales LGBT+ Police Network is recognised and supported by chief officers across Wales and is governed by a constitution, which clearly directs its activities and responsibilities
You can keep up to date with what the Wales LGBT+ Police Network by following them on Twitter - @LGBTPoliceWales