Police apologise to transgender woman for calling her a man

Alison Stokes of Grange Park, St Helens, was called a man by police officers
Alison Stokes of Grange Park, St Helens, was called a man by police officers

A TRANSGENDER woman who was referred to as a “he” by custody suite staff at St Helens Police Station has had a complaint against her treatment upheld.

Alison Jane Stokes, of Grange Park, made a formal complaint about the conduct of two officers after she was arrested on suspicion of threatening behaviour.

The 35-year-old, who was born Andrew Stokes, took offence at being asked whether she should be searched by a male or female officer and at being referred to as a “he” in a telephone conversation with her family.

No charges against Ms Stokes were ever brought.

She told the Reporter: “As if it wasn’t bad enough being arrested and taken into the police station, I felt it was then an insult to be asked whether I was a man or a woman when it came to being searched.

“As a woman, I should only be searched by a female officer. If I hadn’t complained then I would have been searched by a man.”

She added: “They never asked me if I had a gender recognition certificate. I felt like I was having to train them up while I was being searched. It was a combination of ignorance and a lack of education.

“Quite a lot of transgender people don’t know their rights. If this had happened to them, instead of me, it could have been even more of a nightmare.

“This has made me feel as if I should get out of St Helens. I don’t feel safe any more.”

A Merseyside Police spokeswoman confirmed: “This complaint was investigated by the St Helens Command Team and two parts were upheld. These relate to a question posed to the detained person whilst they were at St Helens Custody Suite and the manner in which they were referred to during a telephone conversation to a member of their family.

“The officers in question have been given advice by the St Helens Command team and a copy of the transgender policy has been re-issued to all staff in the custody team.

“Merseyside Police will thoroughly investigate such complaints and has apologised to the complainant in relation to this matter. We expect the highest standards of all of our officers and when we fall short, we will take appropriate action to ensure mistakes are not repeated.”