In a significant shift in policy, Humberside Police has announced that officers will no longer be pictured wearing glitter or face paint at events. The decision comes in response to recent comments by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who asserted that police officers are not paid “to dance with drag queens” during LGBT+ events. Rachel Cook, the chief executive of the Office of the Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner, clarified the force’s stance as “very neutral.” This development has raised questions about the balance between officer engagement and professionalism at such events.
Amidst discussions about community policing, Rachel Cook emphasized the force’s neutral position, stating, “I think we’re in a very neutral territory. You won’t see any photographs of our officers wearing glitter and face paint.” Suella Braverman had earlier expressed concerns in the House of Commons about police involvement in activities like dancing with drag queens or waving flags at parades, sparking a wider debate on the role of the police at events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.
The Home Secretary’s remarks have prompted an impartiality review into “initiatives that are not meeting the priorities that the public expect of the police.” Once this review is completed, it is expected to provide clarity on the boundaries of officer participation at such events, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. Andy Train, a prominent member of Hull’s LGBT+ community, acknowledged the need for professionalism but also expressed a desire for police involvement, saying, “We do want them involved. We’ll take them as far as they want to go.”
North Hull MP Dame Diana Johnson acknowledged that police officers aren’t regularly seen “prancing around covered in glitter.” Still, she believes that this issue is primarily an operational matter for chief constables to consider. Deputy Chief Constable Dave Marshall emphasized the importance of police representing the diverse communities they serve, stating that the force area is made up of many communities and that officers are proud to be representative of this diversity. He added, “Our work with diverse community groups enables us to create a police service that is accessible for everyone.”