POLICE will be celebrating this weekend’s Swindon and Wiltshire Pride Festival by flying a rainbow flag at their Gablecross station.
A similar flag will also be hoisted at the Wiltshire police headquarters in Devizes.
The equality and diversity event takes place for the sixth time in Swindon at the Town Gardens on Saturday. The police first got involved at last year’s parade.
PCSOs Lee Hare and Kate Jackson-Collier, Unison’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender officers, were the sole representatives last year, but their hard work has blazed a new trail .
Lee, 33, said: “It’s a community event and family day with an important message and we want to make ourselves part of that.
“I have done a lot of work to get as many people as possible to attend. There has been a lot of support from senior management, including the Chief Constable. He’s funded the two flags that are going up.”
The flags are being produced by a printer in the town and will contain the colours of the rainbow as well as the Wiltshire Police emblem.
Lee had to submit a full business plan as well as reasons why the flags should be flown.
The flags will go up at each site on Friday and remain there until Monday morning.
The move is unprecedented for the force, though others around the country have shown their support for Pride in the past.
Lee, who is gay , said the amount of involvement shown by the force this year, including 16 representatives in the parade, has made him very proud.
“It’s been done by a couple of other forces, like Hatfield and South Wales Police at their headquarters,” he said.
“I am massively proud. Homosexuality wasn’t decriminalised until 1967, so there are people still around who see the police as a threat.
“Our presence at Pride is about demolishing those barriers.”
Chief Constable Pat Geenty said: “I am happy to support this year’s Pride celebrations.
“It is important to raise our communities’ awareness of the diversity in the county and events like Pride bring people together as one.
“I want LGBT members of the community to feel confident enough to report crime and that they will receive a good service from their police.”
The Pride parade starts at the Town Gardens in Quarry Road at 11.15am, and Pride will run until 10.25pm.