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A team dedicated to supporting Brighton's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community are now in post.
PC Rich Bridger joins PC Rachel Piggott as Brighton's dedicated LGBT community police officers and AliJay Lawrence as the LGBT Liaison Officer.
Rich said: "I'm delighted to be working in Kemp Town as a neighbourhood beat officer. Brighton is a vibrantly diverse city and our policing should reflect the needs of our individual communities. There are many LGBT people living in the city and many visitors are also from this community. We're looking at innovative new ways to engage with the community, including launching a dedicated Facebook site and people can already log on to the website to view our video blog, or 'Vlog', on the Sussex Police YouTube channel."
Rich worked in mental health prior to joining the Force and was one of three Project Workers running a homeless project in Wealden, offering accommodation to vulnerable people. Rich has been an officer for six years, most recently working on the Public Protection Unit in Eastbourne and as a Response officer in Hastings.
Prior to joining Sussex Police, AliJay ran a woman's group for LGBT charity PACE and has worked for other LGBT organisations in London. She worked in homeless hostels and ran a project for sexual health charity Brook across all 33 London boroughs, identifying and preventing sexual bullying and homophobia in schools and worked with young offender teams and other youth groups.
AliJay said: "I'm very fond of the City and would like residents and visitors to feel supported by police. Increasing reporting of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic incidents is a priority for our team and we are working closely with our partners to achieve this. I'd like to thank all the people who have reported incidents experienced in the street, in the clubs, on public transport and in the workplace. If bullying, verbal abuse and physical attacks are reported then we can prevent further victimisation and identify possible hotspots. Victims can be assured they will be fully supported by our team while offenders are brought to justice. If people don't want to pursue an incident but wish to report it to help other LGBT people they can use the third party reporting system provided by 'Safe in the City' and the LGBT switchboard."
Rachel has been a police officer for seven years and part of the Kemp Town Neighbourhood Policing Team for the last three, gaining first hand experience of frontline policing within the LGBT community. She will continue to work as part of the policing team for Kemp Town.
Rachel said: "Many people will know me already and I look forward fo further building on our relationship with the LBGT community in Brighton and Hove. I feel passionate about the issues and responsibilities associated with the role of LGBT liaison officer and delighted be a visible face in the community and look forward to talking to people face-to-face."
The team will be working closely with partners, who offer a spectrum of services dedicated to the LGBT community.
Eric Page, LGBT Community Safety Officer for the Partnership Community Safety Team, said: "At a time of rapid change in delivering public services and ahead of the Public Spending Review it is very encouraging to see the police confidently committing resources to work directly with the LGBT community in the city. This is a real manifestation of their support for working together with the community and other agencies to bring about positive change and better outcomes for LGBT victims of crime and anti-social behaviour. This LGBT front facing policing team should continue to build on the good work done previously to engender trust and confidence in all the City's statutory agencies in dealing respectfully with LGBT people who may been victims of crime."
To contact Rachel, Ali Jay and Rich call 01273 665657 or email LGBT@sussex.pnn.police.uk and to view the team's Vlog log on to http://www.youtube.com/user/sussexpoliceforce
To contact the LGBT community safety officer call 01273 294638 and contact the Brighton and Hove LGBT switchbaord on 01273 204050.