All trans people arrested should be documented by birth gender as well as chosen gender, says police chief for Milton Keynes and Thames Valley

It’s vital for the safeguarding of victims, he says
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Police boss Matthew Barber has written to the Home Office urging that all people arrested are recorded by their birth gender as well as their chosen gender.

He says the move is “vital for the safeguarding of victims and the maintenance of public confidence".

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s move comes after Monday’s conviction sentencing of the evil murderer Scarlet Blake, who targeted Spanish BMW worker Jorge Martin Carreno as he walked home from a night out in Oxford.

Thames Valley police received backlash for referring to transwoman murderer Scarlet Blake as femaleThames Valley police received backlash for referring to transwoman murderer Scarlet Blake as female
Thames Valley police received backlash for referring to transwoman murderer Scarlet Blake as female

Blake, who is a transwoman, lured Jorge to a secluded riverbank before hitting him on the head with a bottle, strangling him and pushing him into the water.

Three months before, she had mutilated a cat and put it in a blender, the court heard. She was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Thames Valley Police and the court system received backlash for referring to Blake as a woman. One critic was author JK Rowling who declared crime statistics are “rendered useless” if crimes committed by men are recorded as female crimes.

Earlier this month Matthew Barber put out a public statement about another transwoman who had been arrested following a sexual assault in the force area.

Thames Valley PCC Matthew BarberThames Valley PCC Matthew Barber
Thames Valley PCC Matthew Barber

He said at the time: “Thames Valley Police have, mistakenly in my view, relied on the ”self-described gender” in publishing a press release that incorrectly states that a woman has been charged with these offences.”

He said the person had “quite rightly” been remanded by magistrates to a male prison.

Now, in a move that could anger some members of the trans community, Mr Barber wants to make it an official requirement that birth gender is recorded by police. His letter to the Home Secretary states: “I would ask the Home Office to consider requiring the police to record the birth sex of detainees in the custody record.

"Recording this additional information, as well as someone’s preferred gender, would allow detainees to be treated respectfully whilst still ensuring that custody records and crime figures accurately reflect crimes committed by male and female offenders.”

While it is important that detainees are treated with “respect and dignity”, he said, the birth gender information is “vital for safeguarding of victims and the maintenance of public confidence”.

He said he is not criticising TVP’s handling of the two cases he has cited as examples.

“I must stress again that in both of these cases Thames Valley Police have been exemplary in safeguarding a vulnerable victim and bring a dangerous killer to justice. Whilst I have raised concerns about the press statements issued the operational response has been everything that we would want from the police.”

He added: “Nevertheless these cases highlight issues of public confidence and safeguarding that I believe can only be addressed through a change in the law. We must all expect the police to follow the law, and as currently set out, they are obliged to record self identified gender in the custody record and there is no legislative framework for them to record someone’s sex at birth. In my view this should change.

“Let us not forget that at the heart of both of these cases are real victims. Important though the subject is, we should all remember that lives have been seriously impacted and ended.”