Friday, 4 February 2011

Union Flag not banned from police stations

Yesterday, the Mail reported:

The Daily Mail Reporter article said:

Police chiefs have come under fire today for flying the rainbow flag for lesbians, gays and bisexuals outside its police stations - when they are forbidden to display the Union Jack.

The multi-coloured 'Freedom' flag adopted by the gay pride movement in the 1970's is now flying at Suffolk Police's Ipswich HQ and its stations at Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

The flags - which include the force's badge - are to mark lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history month.

But there was fierce criticism of the move after it was revealed that stations were not allowed, under force policy, to fly the Union Jack or the Cross of St George.

Inevitably, Richard Littlejohn mentioned this story for his column today. He added:

No one would mind that much, I imagine, if Chief Constable Ash didn’t also ban the flying of the Union Flag outside ‘his’ police stations — presumably on the grounds that it’s ‘racist’...

...he refuses to fly the Union Flag even on the Queen’s birthday — or any other special occasion, for that matter.

He has no idea what the 'grounds' are but thinks this is what Mail readers will want the reason to be.

But it's a big presumption because it seems the Mail's claim that the flags are 'banned' or 'forbidden' isn't true.

On ITV Anglia Tonight, a police spokesperson was asked about the accusation that these flags were not flying because they had been banned. She replied:

'This is not accurate. Both flags are flown from our headquarters.'

(Despite the Mail claiming the raising of the rainbow flag was met with 'fierce criticism', the Anglia Tonight reporter said 'most residents we spoke to supported the decision'.)

The view of the spokesperson seems to be backed up by the Suffolk Constabulary Policies & Procedures document on the Use and Maintenance of Police Buildings. It says:

11 Flags
11.1 Police Headquarters and other stations with facilities for raising flags will fly the Union Flag on the following dates and on any special occasion notified:

6 February Accession of Her Majesty The Queen
19 February Birthday of Prince Andrew
10 March Birthday of Prince Edward
21 April Birthday of Her Majesty The Queen
23 April St George's Day

So Littlejohn was wrong about the 'ban', wrong about the 'grounds' for the 'ban', and wrong to say the Union Flag doesn't fly on the Queen's Birthday.

Moreover, a reader who asked Suffolk Police about the 'ban' has forwarded their response to this blog. It says:

...we would like to clarify that Suffolk Police, like every other force in England and Wales, does hoist the Union and St George Cross flags on appropriate days of the year...

On other days, the force flag flies outside police stations and at force headquarters, but it is at the Chief Constable’s discretion as to when and if other flags are hoisted.

There has never been any ban on flying the Union Flag on Suffolk Constabulary buildings as has been reported.

So did the Mail check the story out with the police and ignore what they said? Or did they just not ask?


  1. I think we all know that rule number one of Mail journalism is to leave out any inconvenient facts that ruin the fear and doom angle. Makes me sick.

  2. The Mail should know not to call it a Union Jack if it's being flown from a building. Just shows the don't actually care if the Union flag is there or not, they just don't want public displays of support for Gay people.

    Y'know in case it turns all the police gay.

  3. I would be interested if anyone could shed light on why RLj thinks that: -
    "Gloucestershire County Council is sending out census forms in no fewer than 56 different languages.
    Forget, for a moment, how much all this must be costing. Leave aside the fact, too, that it shouldn’t be too much to ask those who choose to live in Britain to speak English.
    According to council manager David Lyon, Gloucester is a ‘multi-cultural hub’."

    According to the Elmbridge Neighbourhood Partnership, local resident David Lyon is the Area Census Manager.
    The census for England and Wales is run by the Office for National Statistics so, all the forms come from the ONS.

  4. This rang a bell. The story has been kicking around connected to different police stations since at least 2006.

    Town Hall refuses to fly Union Jack before hoisting gay pride flag - 2006

    Outrage as police station ditches Union Jack... for a gay rights flag - 2009

    This time and in 2009, could it have stemmed from a hysterical misunderstanding of flying the flag for LGBT month while the Union Flag is only flown on special occasions?

  5. I am really sorry to upset anyone out there, and I do respect what this Blog is trying to do but in my police force we are indeed NOT allowed to fly the Union Flag from the police station in case it offends minority communities. I know it is nonsense, but it is true. Many of these policies are made locally by senior officers trying to make friends in the extreme Muslim community and HQ wouldn't necessarily know. We are not as centrally controlled as you might think.

  6. Has anyone from the Police or indeed anyone who has ever suggested that the Union Flag offends any minority group actually got any evidence to suggest it does...or better yet has anyone actually asked leaders of said minority groups?

    Now I obviously realise groups like the EDL, BNP and whatever other extreme right wing groups exist DO hijack the flag (as these kind of groups do the world over) but surely any sensible person from any section of society is going to realise that a police station flying the flag of the country it is in is a bit different to a bunch of racist thugs marching in a high street.

  7. This article asserts, with proof, that it hasn't happened. Inspectorgadget asserts, without proof, that it does. Who you gonna believe?

  8. 1) Speaking as a Suffolk resident, pretty much everybody I know who is aware of this story is bemused by the 'outrage' and utterly indifferent to what flag we fly.

    2) Would Inspector Gadget, like to use the comforting blanket of internet anonymity to name and shame his local police force?

  9. The Mail don't care if the story is true or not, it sounds like their sort of thing so they will print it anyway.

  10. Great piece - thanks for looking into the real story behind the Mail's nonsense.

  11. So even assuming InspectorGadget's claims were true, it would still be a case of local management doing something in direct contravention of instructions, and not, as the Fail asserts "that stations were not allowed, under force policy, to fly the Union Jack or the Cross of St George."

  12. This is the sort of story which has created the abysmal attitudes recorded recently among Brits who are rapidly turning into defiant racists and monoculturalists. The harm papers like the Mail do cannot be underestimated.

  13. Excellent debunking of a myth the Daily Heil regularly propagates.

  14. Inspectorgadget does run a police blog where he outlines he's extrmem right-wing views. He belongs to the "ruralshire" police force which is probably Kent Police. But I wouldn't trust a word he says

  15. Inspector Gadget doesn't help his cause when his right wing blog recycles the same lies this article exposes.

    If you are so sure of the bans, find some evidence they exist. Instead of repeating lies from the Daily Mail. Will your blog be issuing an apology for the untruths in that article? Or will you go on using it as 'evidence' for your own argument even after its proved wrong?

  16. Knowing the Inspector probably the latter

  17. Three times! Although small, these constant lies emanating from the Mail are slowly poisoning the social relationships in this country. In fact the Mail is doing its best to rip this fabric apart. Presumably that's their aim.

    Statutory regulation of the press NOW


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