A police force has been accused of “playing identity politics” by the Home Secretary.
Suella Braverman told West Sussex Police it was wrong to brand as “hateful” social media comments which referred to a transgender paedophile as a man.
Members of the public complained online after the force called a convicted paedophile ‘a woman’, even though he is biologically male and committed the crimes prior to ‘transitioning’.
In a press release, West Sussex Police announced: “Woman convicted of historic offences against children in Sussex”.
John Stephen Dixon, who uses the name Sally, was found guilty of 30 offences against seven children between 1989 and 1996 and sentenced to 18 years in a women’s prison.
He began living as if he was a woman in 2004, although he still has not changed his legal sex by obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate.
Reacting to the police statement, Cambridge councillor Clare King tweeted: “No. This is not a female crime.”
Focus on catching criminals not policing pronouns
When King’s tweet, ‘misgendering’ Dixon, was highlighted by another member of the public the force responded: “Sussex police do not tolerate any hateful comments towards their gender identity regardless of crimes committed.”
Braverman praised West Sussex Police for putting “a dangerous criminal behind bars”, before adding: “But they’ve got it wrong by playing identity politics and denying biology. Focus on catching criminals not policing pronouns.”
West Sussex Police later apologised and deleted the tweet.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne subsequently criticised her own force for its “tone deaf tweet”.
The Commissioner said: “It is particularly upsetting after hearing the harrowing testimony of Dixon’s victims.”
She also accused the police of appearing to “ignore or demean the experiences” of those affected by Dixon’s crimes.
In a recent letter to senior policing figures across England and Wales, Braverman wrote: “Unfortunately, there is a perception that the police have had to spend too much time on symbolic gestures, than actually fighting criminals.
“This must change. Initiatives on diversity and inclusion should not take precedence over common-sense policing.”