Northern Ireland

Belfast Pride: First uniformed police officers to take part in parade

Police officer stand with 'Pride' Land Rovers Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Dep Chief Constable Drew Harris said the PSNI wanted to show its support for the LGBT community

This year's Belfast's gay pride parade will include uniformed Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers for the first time.

The PSNI said its officers have taken part in the Pride festival before, but this is the first time they have paraded in uniform.

Three PSNI vehicles will also be on the streets bearing a Pride message.

Signs on the vehicles read: "Policing with Pride - Hate Crime is Unacceptable - To Stop It, Report It."

Serving officers will take their places in the annual march next Saturday and will also be involved in a number of other festival events, including the Pride Picnic.

"Pride is an important series of events for those in the community who identify as being LGB+T," said Dep Chief Constable Drew Harris.

He aded that the PSNI "sees this as an opportunity not only to show its support for these members of our communities but also to highlight that hate crime, in whatever form, is wrong and the importance of reporting it".

"Hate crime should not be tolerated and victims should be encouraged and feel confident that when they contact police that their concerns will be taken seriously and responded to appropriately."

The chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Anne Connolly, said: "It's a very sad reality that homophobic and transphobic hate crime continues to be committed in our society.

"This is not an issue for the police alone to deal with but as they are often the first point of contact, the message and service provided by the PSNI is critical.

"I welcome the fact that officers will be parading at Pride in their uniform for the first time ever, demonstrating the diversity among PSNI officers and staff and PSNI support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people across our community."

The 'Policing with Pride' liveried PSNI vehicles will also be used at Pride events in Newry and Londonderry.