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'Policing with Pride': Officers set for Belfast Pride for first time

For the first time, Belfast's gay pride parade will include uniformed PSNI officers.

This year's annual Pride festival gets underway Friday July 28, and will run through until August 6.

The August 5 march is the marquee event of each year's festival - and Police have said that they hope their presence will send a message about hate crime.

Speaking about the issue, Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said: "Hate crime should not be tolerated and victims should be encouraged and feel confident that when they contact police that their concerns will be taken seriously and responded to appropriately."

"Pride is an important series of events for those in the community who identify as being LGB+T," he added.

"The PSNI sees this as an opportunity not only to show its support for these members of out communities but also to highlight that hate crime, in whatever form, is wrong and the importance of reporting it."

In their statement the PSNI emphasised the fact that they had been involved in the Pride festival for many years, but this will be the first time they have paraded in uniform.

PSNI vehicles will also be part of the parade, bearing banners with the Pride message: "Policing with Pride".

Anne Connolly, the chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, said:

"I welcome the fact that officers will be parading at Pride in their uniform for the first time ever, demonstrating the diversity among PSNI officers and staff and PSNI support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people across our community."

The Police Service LGBT Network will also be involved in the Pride Picnic, and the 'Policing with Pride' Landrovers will also be in attendance at the Newry and Derry/Londonderry Pride events.

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