The Thames Valley Gay Police Association (TVGPA) has been chosen as the Force's Diversity Team of the year in the Community Policing Awards 2011.
Established in 2007, the TVGPA aims to provide support and networking opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff, as well as all personnel who are employed by, or volunteer for the Thames Valley Police force. Membership of the association now exceeds 200.
The TVGPA has been a keen and participative supporter of Thames Valley Police's applications to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index (WEI), in which the Force achieved 50th in the Top 100 employers nationally in 2009, improving to 35th place in 2010. Activities undertaken by the association have played an instrumental part in this organisational achievement. They include the representation of LGBT issues internally and externally, production of a quarterly staff newsletter, the organisation of high profile social events and attendance at Gay Pride events.
These and other initiatives have contributed to cultural evolution within Thames Valley Police, resulting in an ever-improving internal environment for LGBT officers and staff. The TVGPA operates a 'buddy scheme' and hosts drop-in events to remove feelings of isolation, provides information and confidential support, for example, during the 'coming out' process, and offers assistance to deal with welfare issues.
This developing culture of inclusion and acceptance of difference has had a positive impact on external perceptions of the Force, both by potential recruits and those who need policing services, either as a victim or witness of crime, or who call on our services in any other context.
In addition to their contribution to greater equality in the workplace, TVGPA members provide operational support to improve the service offered by Thames Valley Police to LGBT people. They have raised officers' and staff awareness of LGBT issues, established links between the Force and external LGBT organisations, and provide specialist advice to Specially Trained Officers (STOs) in dealing with serious sexual offences linked to the LGBT community.