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Last Updated: Monday, 27 June, 2005, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
UK police join US Gay Pride march
Mark Andrews and Lisa Timerick at the San Francisco Pride march
Mark Andrews and Lisa Timerick spent six weeks in San Francisco
A Sussex Police officer is believed to have become the first from the UK to march in the San Francisco Gay Pride parade wearing his uniform.

Sgt Mark Andrews from Brighton has been in the city on a six-week fact-finding mission, along with police liaison officer Lisa Timerick.

The trip has been paid for with 5,000 given to them for winning a police award for diversity in action.

About a million spectators lined the route of Sunday's march in California.

The San Francisco parade is considered one of the largest gay celebrations in the world.

'Wonderful opportunity'

Mr Andrews and Miss Timerick won the 5,000 bursary at the Police Review Awards in November 2004 for their work with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Brighton and Hove.

Sussex Police only lifted a ban on uniformed police marching in British gay pride events in 2004.

Mr Andrews told BBC South East: "Marching in a parade back home is one thing, but to come to another country and be with the gay cops in San Francisco, and just experience what it is like, is brilliant, a wonderful opportunity."

Mark Andrews with members of the crowd
Sgt Andrews got a good reception from the Californian crowds

Mr Andrews is Brighton and Hove's LGBT community support officer, while Miss Timerick works as a LGBT community liaison officer.

They decided to use the bursary prize to visit San Francisco because it has a large LGBT community, like Brighton and Hove.

They said they hoped the Americans could give them new ideas to help them build better relationships with the Sussex city's diverse population.

During the trip they patrolled the Castro district, which has a high density of gay residents and LGBT businesses.

They saw how the San Francisco officers police the area, carried out a survey of attitudes to the police, and also joined the San Francisco Police Department police academy where they found out how new recruits are given awareness training.

Miss Timerick said: "We just needed that fresh input to give us a few more ideas, a bit of inspiration."

They return to England this week, when they will begin preparing a presentation to the Police Superintendents' Association, which provided the bursary.

The trip had been criticised in some quarters but Mr Andrews said it would benefit policing in Sussex and pointed out it was not funded from Sussex Police's budget.

Police in trip to San Francisco
03 May 05 |  Southern Counties
Police duo win 5,000 study prize
18 Nov 04 |  Southern Counties
Brighton streets swell with Pride
07 Aug 04 |  Southern Counties
Country profile: United States of America
07 Apr 05 |  Country profiles

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