A woman arrested by Bedfordshire Police would be able to refuse a strip search by a transgender officer, the force’s deputy chief constable has said.
But he said that Beds Police “recognise the status of trans colleagues from the moment they transition”.
Earlier in April, several national media outlets reported on a Mail on Sunday story that claimed female suspects can be strip-searched by police officers who were assigned male at birth but who identify as women.
During the Delivery and Beating Crime meeting on April 25, Festus Akinbusoye, the county’s police and crime commissioner (PCC), said that several residents had asked about the force’s policy of strip searches by transgender officers.
The deputy chief constable (DCC) Trevor Rodenhurst said: “We recognise the status of trans colleagues from the moment they transition, considered to be, the point at which they present in the gender with which they identify with.
“A trans colleague’s birth certificate or subjective discussions regarding how well their gender presentation matches their gender identity are not relevant to the equality protections enshrined in the Equality Act.
“So once a trans colleague has transitioned they will search persons of the same gender as their own lived gender.
“However, it is recognised that some colleagues may have a gender identity that does not easily fit with the binary regime contemplated when PACE 1984 was enacted.
“So in certain cases a discussion may be necessary with such a colleague to establish how they can participate in conducting searches.
“And that conversation will be held sensitively, at a suitably senior level, and before the colleague is put in a position where they may be required to participate in searches,” he said.
The PCC asked: “Does that mean a woman who is in custody with Bedfordshire Police, and is about to be strip searched by a trans woman, can she say that she doesn’t want to be strip searched by that officer?”
“If someone made objections of that nature, then of course we would seek to comply with that person’s wishes,” the DCC replied.
“It wouldn’t be any trouble for us to find a different person to do that if there is a reason to do that.
“I mean we’re talking quite hypothetically, I don’t believe we have any officers who are trans in a role where they could be doing this,” he said.
The PCC said: “It may well be something that comes up at some point, and I just hope that you are ahead of the curve on that just in case it does happen.”
A spokesperson for the OPCC said the DCC was referring to the document ‘Trans Guidance for the Policing Sector’ written last year by ACC Julie Cooke, the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) lead for LGBT+ issues. Bedfordshire Police’s stop and search policy will be amended to reflect this guidance.