One in 20 Merseyside police officers identify as gay or lesbian, the first figures of their kind suggest.
A Freedom of Information request sent by the PA news agency asked Merseyside Police for a breakdown of the sexual orientation of its thousands of officers in November.
Of the 2,696 that responded when snapshot staffing figures were gathered, 136 (5%) said they were gay or lesbian.
Chief Inspector Lee Broadstock, co-chairman of the LGBT+ network representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans officers across the country, said: “If we’re not representative of our communities then we don’t understand that community.”
The national statistics
There is wide variation in the proportion of LGB officers within the 26 police forces across England and Wales which replied to the request and had data for at least half of their officers.
The highest percentage of officers identifying as gay or lesbian was in Sussex (7.2%), while the lowest was in Lincolnshire (2.3%).
Bisexual and pansexual
The figures showed the vast majority of Merseyside officers (91.9%) are straight.
Meanwhile, 2.9% identified as bisexual and less than 1% said they are pansexual or another sexuality.
The proportion of officers identifying as bisexual ranged between 0.8% in Dyfed and Powys and Suffolk, and 4.4% in Warwickshire.
Representative of communities
The data follows the damning conclusions of the inquest for the victims of serial killer Stephen Port, at which grieving family members and friends said prejudice, a lack of LGBT officers in Barking and Dagenham, and a failure to engage with the gay community meant crucial clues were missed.
Chief Inspector Lee Broadstock, co-chairman of the LGBT+ network representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans officers across the country, said: “There needs to be an understanding of what the communities need to give people an equitable police service.”
LGB figures could me higher
Mr Broadstock said the true number of LGB officers in each force is likely to be higher, with no sexuality recorded for 61,000 out of 131,000 officers across the two nations.
Mr Broadstock, who said he has previously experienced homophobia among colleagues and members of the public, added: “Sometimes they don’t trust what their force HR is going to do with their responses – are they going to be treated less favourably in future when it comes to promotions?
“Without doubt Port shed a light on cultures within policing that are not welcoming environments.
“It is sad that that is still the case sometimes, but the picture is absolutely improving.
“If you tried to get these figures 20 years ago it would have been a very different story – I doubt you would have got any data.”