The Scottish LGBTI Police Association traces its roots back to 1990 and the founding of the Lesbian and Gay Police Association. This represented gay and lesbian officers and staff throughout the UK, including Scotland. However, in 2014 the membership voted within a General Meeting to close the GPA. The Association ceased to exist everywhere in the UK with the exception of Scotland where it continued. This was known as the Gay Police Association (GPA), in 2015 the public voted Equality Network Staff Association of the Year and the ICON Community Spirit organisation of the year.
In 2017 the Association went through a further revision and it was rebranded to the Scottish LGBTI Police Association in an effort to become more inclusive of the entire community. It was felt that the name GPA implies that the association was focused on gay men and not the entire LGBTI community. The Association continues to support officers and staff from all police services in Scotland including Police Scotland, British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence Police and Civil Nuclear Constabulary as well as the Scottish Police Authority.
Annually the Association participates in one Pride March a year with relevant permission from the Chief Constable. 2019 marked the 10th year that Police Officers in Scotland have marched in Pride events in uniform. It is without doubt the most visible event of the year for the Association and a great privilege to participate.
In October 2019 the Scottish LGBTI Association and Police Scotland launched and ran the UKs first LGBTI focused recruitment event for Police Officers in the West of Scotland. The event was run and organised by serving officers and staff from Police Scotland who either identified as LGBTI or Allies. The event was considered a success with subsequent events planned for the future in other parts of Scotland.
This is a synopsis of what we are about.
The first professional police force created in the UK was the City of Glasgow Police in 1800. However, it wasn't until 1829 when the Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel, established a police force in London and set out an ethical standard for policing which would become known as the "Peelian Principles" or "policing by consent" which became a standard throughout the UK. Principle 7 states, "To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence."
It would be fair to say that until the latter half of the 20th Century, the make-up of the police service looked more like that of 19th Century Britain. Whilst there have always been LGBTI police officers and staff, few felt able to identify as such for fear of negative consequences. Indeed the relationship between the police and the increasingly visible LGBTI community was at an all-time low.
In order to be effective, based on the UK-wide model of policing, it is vital for all communities to have trust and confidence in the police and feel part of that institution. Tension and mistrust simply make it far more difficult for the police to operate efficiently and "police by consent". If your own staff feel unable or uncomfortable about being openly LGBTI, why should the LGBTI community place any trust or confidence in that institution?
Critics of our Association, who have mainly come from within the policing ranks, including some LGBTI personnel, are often under the misapprehension that we are 'divisive'. Quite the contrary. The reverse is true. Thanks to the Association putting its head above the parapet and standing up for all LGBTI police personnel over many years, the police service in Scotland has evolved dramatically to become far more inclusive than it has ever been.
The Scottish LGBTI Police Association (formerly GPA Scotland) has been at the forefront of change and providing a voice, that wouldn't otherwise exist, for LGBTI police service personnel at every level of the service.
The famous quote, "No Man is an Island" (taken from the writing of the same name by John Donne - 1624) is essentially why we exist and what we are all about i.e. we rely on each other, as an association of members, in order to achieve progress and further the collective will for the benefit of all.
That is why the Scottish LGBTI Police Association has a very simple mission. How that is ultimately achieved relies on you and the collective support from others from within the Association. Why stand on the shoulders of giants when you could equally make your mark?
Advance LGBTI equality, inclusion and support throughout policing in Scotland and within the communities we serve.