THE Pride flag flew from Essex Police headquarters this weekend to celebrate the county’s annual Pride festival.
Our officers, volunteers and members of our LGBT+ Network attend the event, which is usually held in Central Park in Chelmsford, every summer.
This year, Essex Pride has moved online to ensure that the important celebration can continue during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chair of Essex Police’s LGBT+ Network, Sergeant Rebecca Shoebridge-Cave, helped to raise the flag at headquarters yesterday, Friday 19 June, alongside Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington.
Speaking of the changes to Pride, Sergeant Shoebridge-Cave said: “Pride certainly looks a bit different this year, but it’s all for the better. I know how important it is to the members of our Network to take some time and celebrate Pride alongside the rest of the LGBTQ+ community, so we’re really glad that it can still go ahead in a different format.”
Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington added: “I hope that everyone has an enjoyable digital Pride this year. I went along to Central Park last year, and had a lot of important conversations with people from our local LGBTQ+ communities.
“We know that crime from the LGBTQ+ community is still underreported, especially when it comes to hate crime or domestic violence. If you’re a victim of crime, we hope you can report it to us and be confident that we will treat your incident with the respect and gravity it deserves.
“We know that we’re not always your first port of call if you’re in trouble, and that’s okay. If you do want to contact us, you can report crime to us through our website or call 101. Please always call 999 in an emergency, and don’t forget you can use the silent 55 on a mobile if it’s not safe for you to speak.
“If we’re not your first port of call, you can go to Crimestoppers to report crime anonymously or speak to Victim Support. There are a lot of great charities available for support as well, who we work closely with, from Stop Hate UK to Outhouse East or Transpire.
“Finally, a huge thank you to my LGBTQ+ officers, staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly to protect and serve the people of Essex. Happy Pride.”
Essex Police’s Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Vernal Scott, said: “Pride is a great chance to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community – whether it’s our staff and volunteers, your family and friends, or even just admiring the strength of love between people you don’t necessarily know.
“The more visible the representation, the more we can inspire people to be themselves, knowing that we’ll be there to welcome them and treat them without judgement, whether we’re meeting you in your Essex Police uniform or under the circumstances where you’re a victim of crime.
“Love is love, gender identity is yours to define, and I’m so proud that we celebrate it all, every day of the year, at Essex Police.”