Police told to use 'gender-neutral' forms of address in new guidance

Police told to use 'gender-neutral' forms of address in new guidance

Sir or ma’am are out – but police can still say ‘Evening all’ (so Dixon Of Dock Green’s OK)! Officers are told to use ‘gender-neutral’ forms of address instead in new guidance

  • Police have been told not to say ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ in favour of gender neutral terms
  • The move comes as part of training for LGBT+ support officers in forces
  •  The Mail on Sunday uncovered the training using Freedom of Information laws

Police are being told not to call people ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’, but to use ‘gender-neutral’ forms of address.

Training for LGBT+ support officers advises them to ‘avoid making assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity’ and to use terms such as ‘you’, ‘everyone’ and ‘all’.

It’s a far cry from the image of the traditional Bobby on the beat, represented by PC George Dixon, hero of the classic TV series Dixon Of Dock Green.

Training for LGBT+ support officers advises them to ‘avoid making assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity’ and to use terms such as ‘you’, ‘everyone’ and ‘all’.

Happily, his cheery, disarming catchphrase, ‘Evening all’, doesn’t appear to have been outlawed by the guidance for Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire officers, which was revealed using Freedom of Information laws.

Under the heading How To Be LGBT+ Friendly, it says: ‘When greeting others avoid: ladies, gentlemen, ma’am, sir, girls, guys etc.’ In one training exercise, officers are asked to talk about their own partners without using ‘gendered terminology such as husband, wife, he or she’.

There are officers in the LGBT+ support network across the 43 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Hertfordshire Constabulary said 26 of its officers had the training with Bedfordshire colleagues in December.

Inspector Steve Alison, chairman of Herts Police LGBT+ Network, said: ‘Our newly trained officers will now be out in their communities. This work is so important; nobody should be made to feel unsafe because of their sexuality or gender identity.’

Hertfordshire police said: ‘The LGBT+ community has faced huge discrimination. It is our job to help those in need. Encouraging small actions by our LGBT+ liaison officers, such as using gender-inclusive language, can go a long way in helping to gain the LGBT+ community’s trust.’

But ex-officer Harry Miller, of the Fair Cop free speech campaign group, said it was ‘totally irrelevant to catching criminals’.

Tory chairman and Hertfordshire MP Oliver Dowden said police should focus on fighting crime, ‘not wasting time trying to condition officers who extend a basic courtesy to the people they serve’.

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