Home Secretary criticises Sussex force for 'policing pronouns'

2 months ago 21
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Home Secretary Suella BravermanImage source, PA Media

Image caption,

Home Secretary Suella Braverman tweeted Sussex Police had "got it wrong"

A police force has been criticised by the home secretary for "policing pronouns" after it said it would not tolerate hateful comments about a child sex offender's gender identity.

Suella Braverman intervened after a row erupted about jailed Sally Ann Dixon.

Dixon had committed the crimes as a man, and some Twitter users objected to police referring to Dixon as a woman.

Sussex Police hit back against "hateful comments" but Ms Braverman accused the force of "playing identity politics".

The force apologised and deleted the tweet.

Force 'denying biology'

The row began with a press release issued by Sussex Police after Dixon was jailed for 20 years.

Headed "Woman convicted of historic offences against children in Sussex", it said: "Sally Ann Dixon, 58, of Swanmore Avenue, Havant, Hampshire, was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court after being convicted of 30 indecent assaults against her victims."

At the time of the offences, Dixon was John Stephen Dixon, but in 2004 changed gender to female.

The press release led to questions from social media users about why Dixon had been called a woman and how the crimes had been recorded.

Image source, Sussex Police

Image caption,

Sally Ann Dixon, 58, has been jailed for 20 years

The force replied on Twitter: "Hi, Sussex Police do not tolerate any hateful comments towards their gender identity regardless of crimes committed. This is irrelevant to the crime that has been committed and investigated."

It added: "If you have gender critical views you wish to express this can be done on other platforms or your own page, not targeted at an individual."

The home secretary intervened, tweeting: "Sussex Police have done well to put a dangerous criminal behind bars.

"But they've got it wrong by playing identity politics and denying biology. Focus on catching criminals not policing pronouns. #commonsensepolicing"

Sussex Police apologised, removed tweets about the case and issued a statement which said: "An earlier reply to a comment on Twitter was inconsistent with our usual style of engagement; we apologise for this and have removed the comment.

"We recognise the rights of the public to express themselves freely within the boundaries of the law."

The force said it had reported factually on the findings of the court which heard that, at the time of the offences, Dixon was living as a man, adding: "The relevant offences were recorded as being committed by a male."

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