North Yorkshire Police has had one of its van specially decorated ahead of Pride parades in York and Harrogate later this month.
The fully operational van, painted with the colours of the rainbow flag, will still respond to all the usual incidents but will also be used by neighbourhood policing teams for local engagement events.
Chief among them will be the York Pride parade on Saturday and the Harrogate Pride in Diversity parade on June 16.
Decked with the Policing with Pride logo, the van also carries messages around hate crime reporting and displays both the key theme of this year’s York Pride event #FLAGITUP and the @NYP_LGBT twitter address of the force’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LBGT+) network.
Speaking about the launch of the vehicle, Temporary Chief Constable Lisa Winward said: “North Yorkshire Police is an inclusive organisation and we are here to protect and represent everyone, irrespective of their sexuality, gender, race, religion or disability.
“By having the van out and about on the road, wrapped in the Pride flag colours, everyone can see our commitment to stopping the victimisation of LGBT people and raising awareness of hate crime reporting.
“We know that hate crime is an under reported crime and some people feel that they cannot approach us if they have been subjected to verbal or physical assault because of their sexuality or gender identity. We want to break down these barriers and encourage victims to come forward and make a report to the police.
“Our own LGBT network were the driving force behind the van and I know they are really looking forward to showing it off and representing North Yorkshire Police at both of the forthcoming Pride parades.”
PC John Topham, a member of the LGBT network, said they were proud to be taking part in the upcoming Pride events.
“The colours of the Pride flag on the van is just one way we can show that North Yorkshire Police cares about the LGBT community and is committed to stopping the type of victimisation that sadly some LGBT people are subjected to on a daily basis," he said.
“We hope by being part of the York Pride and Harrogate Pride events we encourage them to come forward and report any incidents to us, knowing that they will be listened to and taken seriously.”
The move to encourage greater reporting of hate crimes affecting the LGBT community has also won the backing of North Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner, Julia Mulligan.
“I am very proud to support the Pride event, and I hope it goes some way to reassure our LGBT+ communities that policing is alive to their concerns regarding hate crime and other issues," she said. " This is an open, welcoming police service and everyone will be treated with dignity and respect when they come forward.
“If anyone has suffered a crime motivated by hatred of their sexuality, please rest assured North Yorkshire Police are here to listen to those concerns carefully and address those crimes head-on. There is no need to suffer in silence and please, if you have any concerns report them to the police via 101, or directly to the Supporting Victims team.”
Anyone with information about hate crime should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 or in an emergency always call 999.
You can also visit www.supportingvictims.org for more information about the advice and support available from Victim Support.