July 30, 2018 5:11 pm
Updated: July 30, 2018 5:18 pm

Police walk without uniforms at London Pride parade

The pink shirts worn by London police during the 24th annual London Pride Parade.

LPSDiversity / Twitter
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The 24th annual London Pride parade was joined by thousands, but a notable difference could be found in one group of participants.

London police provided their familiar presence, only without their uniforms or marked cruisers.

Instead, officers were seen wearing pink shirts emblazoned with rainbow and trans-flag coloured badges and driving much smaller versions of their branded vehicles.

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READ MORE: ‘Don’t rain on my parade’: London’s 24th annual Pride parade marches on

In April, Pride London Festival announced officers would be barred from the parade, unless they chose to ditch the uniforms and marked cruisers. The decision was made in order to ensure members of the Indigenous community and people of colour would feel at ease during the parade.

“I was disappointed in not being [able] to be in uniform,” said Cst. Theresa Allott, diversity officer for London police who has also served 26 years with the force.

However, Allott did recognize the reason why the uniforms and marked cruisers were barred from the parade.

“I have gone to a number of community meetings and board meetings,” said Allott. “I knew that there were a few members of the community [who] did not want police in uniform or [to have] some officers armed, as well.”

For Allott, there’s still work to do before uniformed officers can be expected back at the parade.

“The previous diversity officer made great strides with relationship-building and we continue to do that,” Allott said. “I think it’s always about that continued dialogue.”

As for how to facilitate that dialogue, Allott said that it’s important for the public to be aware of what officers do in the community.

The diversity officer’s work often consists of speaking with youth at Open Closet and YOU Belong, a pair of London LGBTQ+ support groups, and honouring days dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community such as Transgender Day of Remembrance

READ MORE: Decision to keep uniformed officers out of London Pride parade ’empowering’: police board

Allott told 980 CFPL that officers are taking training and educating sessions related to LGBTQ+ issues and proper terminology.

These sessions will last until the end of the year.

— With files from Jess Brady

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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