UK police forces spend £66,000 on LGBT rainbow cars, shoelaces and flags

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has previously said that police rainbow vehicles act as ‘hate-crime cars’ that encourage people to report incidents such as social media remarks - Chris Canon/Alamy
The National Police Chiefs’ Council has previously said that police rainbow vehicles act as ‘hate-crime cars’ that encourage people to report incidents such as social media remarks – Chris Canon/Alamy

Police forces have spent £66,000 on rainbow-themed merchandise, including flags, selfie frames and pens, The Telegraph has learned.

The spending over the past three years has seen 27 forces across England and Wales splash out on LGBT-themed whistles, key rings, shoelaces, pens and lip balm.

Last night, police chiefs were accused of “wasting money on woke nonsense”.

Figures released under freedom of information laws showed that £66,689 was spent by the 27 forces on LGBT merchandise between 2019 and 2022.

The highest spender was South Wales Police, which racked up £24,000 on rainbow flags, face paints, T-shirts, badges, pens, whistles, wristbands, sporks, trolley keyrings, water bottles and keyrings.

An LGBT-branded South Wales Police car during a Pride Cymru parade in Cardiff. The force has spent £24,000 on various LGBT merchandise - Mark Hawkins /Alamy
An LGBT-branded South Wales Police car during a Pride Cymru parade in Cardiff. The force has spent £24,000 on various LGBT merchandise – Mark Hawkins /Alamy

In second place was Kent Police, which forked out £8,000 on rainbow whistles, key rings, wristbands, grip pens, erasers, paper stickers, curvy pens, pencils, coasters, lanyards, trolley coins and ID holders.

Lancashire Police purchased £1,500 worth of rainbow lip balm, flags, keyrings, lanyards and stickers, while Wiltshire Police forked out £538 on LGBT lanyards and “rainbow fuzzy bugs”.

Meanwhile, LGBT-branded handheld fans were included in Avon and Somerset’s £4,900 rainbow merchandise bill.

The investigation by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, shared exclusively with this newspaper, also found hundreds of pounds being spent on decorating police cars in rainbow livery.

Such spending raises further questions about police priorities, as forces are solving the lowest proportion of crimes on record – but overall offences are at a historic high.

Only 5.4 per cent of all crimes resulted in a charge in the year to June, which is a third of the charging rate seven years ago, according to Home Office figures – but overall recorded crime stands at 6.5 million offences, up seven per cent since the pandemic.

‘Caught red-handed’

Tom Ryan, a researcher at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Police chiefs have been caught red-handed wasting money on woke nonsense.

“With crime on the up, it will bring little comfort to Brits knowing that bobbies are kitted out with rainbow merchandise.

“Police forces should put a stop to this pointless spending and focus funds on the frontline.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has told police chiefs in recent months to stop “debating gender on Twitter” by going “back to basics” with “common-sense policing”.

Other rainbow spending included Staffordshire Police forking out £3,300 on shoelaces, balloons and lanyards, while Northamptonshire Police spent £337 on items including LGBT selfie frames, bunting and photo filters on the social media app Snapchat.

Essex Police spent £7,700 on rainbow merchandise but did not break down which types and the Ministry of Defence Police spent almost £1,000 on rainbow flags, lanyards and mugs.

Greater Manchester Police had a £2,900 spend, including on rainbow epaulettes, while Cheshire Police purchased a £130 intersex flag.

‘Hate-crime cars’

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has previously said that police rainbow vehicles act as “hate-crime cars” that encourage people to report incidents such as social media remarks, which can be logged as controversial “non-crime hate incidents”.

A previous probe found that fire brigades spent £17,000 on decorating fire engines and £35,000 was spent on rainbow merchandise in the past five years.

Chief Superintendent Amanda Tillotson, of the diversity and inclusion academy at Kent Police, said its “LGBT+ crime-prevention merchandise” works to “regularly remind the wider public of the importance of communities working together to support and protect each other”.

She added that the force “take our responsibilities to all communities as laid out by the Equality Act 2010 extremely seriously” and is committed to “deliver a first-class service to victims and witnesses of all crime”.

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