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'Devastating Blow to Women's Trust in the Police': UK Women Can Now Be Strip-Searched by Any Who Identify as Women

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Female suspects can now be strip-searched in the United Kingdom by transgender police officers – biological males who identify as females – and could be accused of a hate crime if they object to the invasive search. 

The Daily Mail reports under new guidelines issued quietly last December by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) law enforcement officials must recognize the status of transgender colleagues from the moment they consider themselves to be a particular gender. 

"Thus, once a Transgender colleague has transitioned, they will search persons of the same gender as their own lived gender," the guidelines state. 

The existence of the new transgender rules among the U.K.'s police departments recently came to light through the work of Cathy Larkman, a police officer for over 30 years who rose to the rank of superintendent before retiring last year, according to The Mail.

Last fall, Larkman, 54, had contacted the College of Policing, the Police Federation, and the NPCC about the concerns among some women who said they had no choice in whether a female or male officer searched them.

She told The Mail she was shocked when she received a copy of the new guidelines from the NPCC last week. 

"The more I read it, the more shocked I was," Larkman said. "This is a devastating blow to women's trust in the police. Women are not even an afterthought in this guidance — they are completely non-existent. Everything is geared towards the sensitivities of the officer doing the searching."

"They claim they are trying to be inclusive. But this isn't inclusive of women and it doesn't respect their sex," said the former police superintendent who commanded over 500 officers at the South Wales Police branch. 

Larkman told the newspaper she fears the new guidelines threaten women's rights to have their own dressing rooms. 

"It tells you everything you need to know about what chief officers are thinking at the moment and where their priorities lie. Sadly, it's not with women," she said.

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