Sussex Police apologize after row over transgender sex offender status


A police force has apologized after the Home Secretary accused it of ‘identity politics and denying biology’ around sex offenses committed by a transgender woman years before the transition.

Sussex Police had insisted they would ‘not tolerate any hateful comments’ about gender identity ‘regardless of the crimes committed’ and advised a Twitter user who said she was exercising her views genre reviews to acquaint yourself with what is considered hate on its website.

Hours later, the force said a comment made on its official Twitter account had been “inconsistent with our usual style of engagement”, and had since been deleted.

The force said it recognizes the “rights of the public to express themselves freely within the limits of the law”.

Responding to the initial tweet, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the force should “focus on catching criminals not controlling pronouns” after Sally Ann Dixon, of Swanmore Avenue, Havant, Hants, jailed for 20 years after being found guilty of 30 indecent assaults.

The force said the crimes, against five girls and two boys, took place between 1989 and 1996, when Dixon was known as John Stephen Dixon.

The 58-year-old, sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on September 8, later became a woman in 2004, Sussex Police said.

Sally Anne Dixon case
Sally Anne Dixon (Sussex Police/AP)

Responding to the remarks, Sussex Police first tweeted that they “do not tolerate any hateful comments in respect of their gender identity, regardless of the crimes committed”.

“It has nothing to do with the crime that was committed and investigated,” he added.

In response, Ms Braverman tweeted: “@Sussex_police did the right thing putting a dangerous criminal behind bars.

“But they get it wrong by doing identity politics and denying biology. Focus on catching criminals, not pronouns.

Karen Ingala Smith, who founded the Femicide Census, an organization that provides information on women who have been killed by men in the UK, argued that “the sex of the perpetrator is certainly not unimportant in crimes of sexual violence against children, for example, the rates of perpetration differ enormously by sex”.

She added: “Furthermore, if crimes committed by men are recorded as crimes by women, then policy based on crime data will be hopeless.”

Frances Crook, former executive director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, now co-chair of the Political Power Commission, said 15,000 men are in prison convicted of sex crimes, compared to about 100 women.

She said attributing even a small number of male crimes to females “would skew the numbers”.

Sussex Police have since confirmed that the offenses committed by Dixon were recorded as having been committed by a man.

Responding to a Twitter user who said she was exercising her gender critical views, Sussex Police said they could familiarize themselves with what is considered hate on their website, adding: ‘If you have critical opinions about the gender you wish to express, this can be done on other platforms or your own page, not targeted at an individual.

The leadership prompted SNP MP Joanna Cherry to forcefully tweet: “I think you could do with familiarizing yourself with the right to #FreeSpeech under #ECHR and the #HumanRightsAct and the protection of gendered beliefs afforded under equality law.

“You have no place to coerce women’s speech.”

In a statement released on Tuesday evening, Sussex Police said: ‘We have given a factual account of the findings of the court which heard that at the time of the offenses Dixon was living as a man, John Stephen Dixon.

“The relevant offenses were recorded as having been committed by a man.

“An earlier response to a Twitter comment was inconsistent with our usual style of engagement; we apologize and have deleted the comment.

“We recognize the right of the public to express themselves freely within the limits of the law.”

Ms Braverman thanked the force for their “quick apology and retraction”.

She added: “The best police officers focus on solving crimes and supporting victims. Not politically correct.

Ms Cherry also welcomed the apology, saying it was the job of the police to “enforce the law not to police the #FreeSpeech of feminists or anyone else for that matter”.

Dixon, who will be subject to a sexual abuse prevention order indefinitely, was also found not guilty of four indecent assaults.

Detective Constable Amy Pooley of Sussex Police’s Complex Abuse Unit said Dixon got to know their victims through family ties “and used that access of trust to systematically abuse each of them. ‘them for the purpose of sexual gratification, in some cases for several months at a time’.

A victim came forward to police in 2019 and the officer said the case shows that “we will always follow up on these reports, no matter how long the events have been happening, to support the victims and see if we can do them justice. wherever the evidence warrants.


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