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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 09:26 GMT
Modernising gay officer gets MBE
Gay Police Association officers marching in London
The Gay Police Association has members in every UK police force
A gay police officer awarded the MBE for helping modernise police attitudes says the situation has dramatically improved in the past five years.

When Inspector Paul Cahill, 32, joined the police in the 1990s he said it was "virtually not acceptable to be gay".

Now each London division has an officer to liaise with the gay community and the Gay Police Association, of which he is chairman, has 1,000 members.

His MBE was for "services to diversity in the police and the wider community".

Mr Cahill hit the headlines after appearing on the front of the Gay Times in full uniform in 1997.

He was also involved in using gay officers to reassure the public and gather intelligence around Old Compton Street in the aftermath of the Soho nail bombing in 1999.

The progress in race equality has had a knock-on effect in terms of general equality
Inspector Paul Cahill
Now a tactical advisor to the Metropolitan Police's SO19 firearms unit, Mr Cahill said the MBE was "quite a surprise".

He said when gay officers had first tried to start their own organisation, there was a "vociferous" letter-writing campaign against it.

But he said: "I do think things have changed, certainly in the last five years there has been a dramatic improvement.

"The progress in race equality has had a knock-on effect in terms of general equality.

"But you can't see gay officers and that has had a detrimental effect on the speed with which things have progressed."

The Gay Police Association was given public funding in 2002, putting it on an equal footing with groups for female and ethnic minority officers.

"People don't judge you as much now," said Mr Cahill.

"I was the only gay person I knew at training school, whereas this week... we have 27 'out' gay officers at Hendon.

"That's a massive sea-change in people's confidence in the organisation."

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens nominated Mr Cahill for the MBE.

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