In a bid to encourage the LGBTQ+ community to lodge complaints of online hate crimes, the police in the United Kingdom have decided to paint their patrol cars in rainbow colours. The development apparently comes after complaints of increasing hate crimes against the transgender community.
On August 10, a video was shared by the official Instagram account of the UK police, wherein it was informed that squad cars will now be painted with rainbow colours. While speaking about the matter, Deputy Chief Constable Julie Cooke claimed, “The Rainbow cars, the hate crime cars, whatever you want to call them, they are part of our vehicle fleet. So, we are always replacing vehicles. They will get all of the police insignia put on them as normal (besides other add ons)… But they are out there as normal patrol vehicles.”
“Sometimes people will ask us: How can you afford to do that? That’s not right to spend money on putting a rainbow to a car. Well the cost is quite minimal but the confidence it can bring, by just having that rainbow on there…and the impact of seeing the rainbow is huge,” she added. Julie Cooke further claimed that the objective behind such patrol cars is to give confidence to LGBTQ and under-represented communities. It must be mentioned that Cooke is the LGBTQ lead of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
At this point, it remains unclear as to how many cars will be covered in rainbow colours. An NPCC spokesperson informed that it was up to individual forces to decide on the number of cars that they want to convert. Ever since the UK police unveiled their plans, they have been at the receiving end of criticism. Reportedly, critics have argued that the police are not focused on fighting real crimes such as knife stabbings and rape and focusing on ‘unproven’ allegations of hate crimes based on social media comments.
Criticism of the ‘rainbow coloured patrol car’ scheme
Even though a crime had not been committed, it can show up in a person’s criminal record. While speaking about the development, ex-cop Harry Miller lamented, “We don’t see the Met with special cars for knife crime, even though the number of stabbings in London is appalling. The problem is that the second that you see a rainbow car, you know that it is a police force that has made its mind up about some very contentious issues. You no longer see a police car or a police officer who is there to support everyone, from all political persuasions, without fear or favour.”
Miller, the founder of ‘Fair Cop’ campaign, emphasised that the cops are busy painting cars at a time when the prosecution rate for violent crimes is only 7%. “They have literally tied their colours to the mast and painted their cars with their political leanings,” he added. Miller had also accused the UK police of going estray and policing ‘speech (on social media)’ instead of policing real issues.