The shame of Sussex police

Facts need to be reported; pronouns do not.

Officers should focus on reporting reality rather than protecting sex offenders from ‘hateful comments’

Just what is happening at Sussex police? Yesterday, the police force issued a grim press release: ‘Woman convicted of historic offences against children in Sussex’. But the woman in question was, in fact, not a woman at all: it was Sally Ann Dixon, born John Stephen Dixon, a paedophile who was jailed for abusing several children between the ages of six and 15.

John Stephen Dixon, also known as Sally Dixon, who abused several children (Credit: Sussex Police)

When outraged women called out the police for this confusing statement, the response was swift: 

‘Hi, Sussex police do not tolerate any hateful comments towards their gender identity regardless of crimes committed. This is irrelevant to the crime that has been committed and investigated’

Sussex Police / Twitter

Whatever changes might have been made to Dixon’s body, Dixon has no gender recognition certificate and therefore remains legally male. Yet Sussex police prioritised protecting Dixon from ‘hateful comments’ rather than reporting reality. 

The woman who received that stern reply from the police – Sybil she calls herself – wanted some answers. Thinking perhaps about the Maya Forstater case, she replied: ‘Sussex police, I am exercising my gender critical views, which are protected in law. Can you advise whether making such statements is a crime?’

It beggars belief why Sussex police became involved in this conversation – on Twitter of all places – but they did, and they continued throwing yet more light on their thinking:

‘Hi, you can familiarise yourself with what is regarding as hate on our website here. If you have gender critical views you wish to express this can be done on other platforms or your own page, not targeted at an individual’

Sussex Police / Twitter

Go away, and don’t bother us? Or, watch out! it might not be a hate crime but it could be a ‘hate incident’ – something that Sussex Police think should be ‘recorded by the police’.

Only last weekend, reports emerged that that the Home Secretary Suella Braverman had written to police chiefs to tell them to prioritise ‘common-sense policing’. Braverman was likely to be concerned about police officers making symbolic gestures and virtue-signalling. If so, she is right to be alarmed: rainbow shoelaces do not catch burglars, and police officers in uniform dancing the Macarena at Pride risk becoming objects of ridicule rather than respect.

But this vignette from yesterday exposed something even more worrying. Police officers swear an oath to act with fairness, integrity, diligence and – crucially – impartiality. Now, it is hard to accept that Sussex police are impartial on the thorny issue of sex and gender. We should be concerned if the police are seen to take sides in any dispute, especially one so polarised as this. But perhaps not surprised, considering their past involvement with Stonewall. Only two years ago, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner trumpeted the inclusion of Sussex police in Stonewall’s Top 100 employers.

Lessons need to be learned. Facts need to be reported; pronouns do not. And women must not be blamed for the crimes of men. Very few sexual offences are the responsibility of women: fewer than two per cent, according to Ministry of Justice data from 2017.

After a furious intervention from Braverman, who accused Sussex police of playing ‘identity politics’, the force has, at least partly, backed down:

‘An earlier reply to a comment on Twitter was inconsistent with our usual style of engagement; we apologise for this and have removed the comment’.

Sussex Police

But can we be sure that Sussex police – and indeed other police forces more focused on avoiding offence than doing their job – doesn’t make a similar mistake the next time a similar case happens?

Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist.

* This article was first published by The Spectator on 28 September 2022: The shame of Sussex police.

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

2 replies on “The shame of Sussex police”

“women must not be blamed for the crimes of men” — thank you

The irony here is that police officers are usually conservative in their politics, so the police should naturally be skeptical of transgender ideology. Furthermore, the fact that this criminal does not have a gender recognition certificate (something we thankfully don’t have in the U.S.), makes it all the more illogical. So where is this “woman” being housed? Not in a women’s prison, I hope!

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My police badge stated “uphold human rights through fairness, integrity and equal respect for all” and all training was aimed at honesty, the truth, the facts with no bias. The below is facts I’ve found out, I obviously don’t mean to offend anyone.

Bronzefields womens prison in Ashford is near where i used to live, so i know it well, in the centre of a town, by housing estate, not far from schools, lots of families. When they built it there was an outcry, locals wanted only low category level not dangerous offenders. It is a womens category A prison with transgender male rapists there. Soon after this sex offender arrived the person started to “groom” a vulnerable young female in the prison so has been moved. Why on earth put male rapists with vulnerable females. This prison has had other incidents, think I remember a pregnancy? Surely its direct sex discrimination and religious discrimination if there are Jewish, muslim, religious women in there? After Suella Braverman told the police to stop “playing identity politics and denying biology” Why is this man called a she when article states is legal male who hasn’t lived as a woman, I find that offensive and confusing in terms of integrity, grammar and biology.

Below is shortened from Daily Mail newspaper (not my words) 30.9.2022 :-
Throughout the four-week trial, the prosecutor referred to Dixon by the male pronoun when alluding to the sex offences — without any objection from the defence. However, when Dixon was found guilty, she was sentenced as a woman and sent to a female prison.
shortly after arriving at women’s prison HMP Bronzefield, Dixon had to be moved after ‘starting a relationship with a vulnerable inmate with learning disabilities’ and had made inappropriate comments to some of the female prisoners, and possibly staff. … ‘Staff do not like it. The ones that come [trans prisoners] have a history of sexually abusing others, or they come with male genitalia. We just don’t have the capacity to ensure the safety of the women.’

This week the Mail spoke to the mother of the girl Dixon lured to that caravan, some 30 years ago. Her daughter, who is still recovering from the trauma, wouldn’t deign to describe the sex criminal as a man or a woman, she told me. ‘She doesn’t see him as an anything,’ she seethed. ‘She just calls him an “it”.’ Her mother also attacked the decision to send Dixon to a women’s prison without the official gender certification.

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