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Dear Carl Wonfor,

ACPO Guidance for Officers and staff
to the Gender Recognition Act 2004

We are pleased to see that the new ACPO Guidance document proposes a consistent approach to transgender policing issues across the country. It also proposes, for the first time, to cover the full range of transgender issues.

We are concerned at the interpretation of the Gender Recognition Act that it adopts. The context of the findings of Goodwin and I v. UK suggests an interpretation that favours the rights of transsexual people strongly. It even implies the right of intersex people to register their intersex status, and neither document requires the possession of specific documentation to establish a change of gender. By contrast the Guidelines are extremely restrictive.

One example is the strong words in which the Goodwin findings say that it is not acceptable to reveal that someone had changed gender. The Act goes further and makes it a specific offence, and allows only one exception, for the prevention and detection of crime. MPs were lobbied heavily to introduce other exceptions. In context this would seem to be a very minor exception for specific cases. The ACPO document quotes the exception, without qualification, in terms that cover almost all police activity.

We regret that the police propose a document that seems to deny transgendered people the rights that it claims to be giving them. Many people have felt that it is in breach of current law. At very least, this is not good public relations.

We are also concerned about the possibility of legal challenge. In recent years transsexual people have learned how effective it is to challenge the UK and the Police in the courts. We would not want the Met to spend time and money on legal challenges, even if the challenges were unsuccessful. In this case there seem to be good grounds to believe that very simple challenges could be successful.

We hope that ACPO will produce some justification for the contentious aspects of this document, or will produce a more acceptable document.

Yours sincerely,

the (civilian members of) Aurora,
Croydon’s lgbt Focus Group


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