Transgender police officers who were born male can still strip-search female suspects, official guidance says

The guidance is described as a devastating blow to women’s trust in the police

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Transgender police officers who were born male can still strip-search female suspects, according to official guidance from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

The NPCC, the representative body for British police chiefs, states that once officers have transitioned, they can “search persons of the same gender as their own lived gender”.

The guidance was issued in December 2021 and was brought to light by Superintendent Cathy Larkman who described it as a “devastating blow to women’s trust in the police”.

Ms Larkman, who recently retired after serving for more than 30 years, said: “The more I read it, the more shocked I was.

“This is a devastating blow to women's trust in the police. Women are not even an afterthought in this guidance — they are completely non-existent. Everything is geared towards the sensitivities of the officer doing the searching.

“They claim they are trying to be inclusive. But this isn't inclusive of women and it doesn't respect their sex.”

A police officer
A police officer
New Metropolitan Police recruits at Hendon, London
New Metropolitan Police recruits at Hendon, London

She told the Mail on Sunday: “It tells you everything you need to know about what chief officers are thinking at the moment and where their priorities lie. Sadly, it's not with women.

“The NPCC like to talk about reducing violence among women and girls but this just makes you think they are hollow words. There is no concern for women here whatsoever.”

The NPCC guidance reportedly says: “Chief Officers are advised to recognise the status of Transgender colleagues from the moment they transition, considered to be, the point at which they present in the gender with which they identify.

“Thus, once a transgender colleague has transitioned, they will search persons of the same gender as their own lived gender.”

The guidance adds: “If the refusal is based on discriminatory views, consideration should be given for the incident [to] be recorded as a non-crime hate incident unless the circumstances amount to a recordable crime.”

A spokesperson for the NPCC said: “All searches are dealt with on a case-by-case basis after consideration by a custody sergeant based on the response of the detainee.

“All searches are carried out in line with the officer or staff members training and legal authority, taking into account our responsibilities under both the Equalities Act 2010 and Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.”