A TRANS councillor has said the newly-elected Police & Crime Commissioner has caused “significant alarm and distress” by his attack on trans-inclusive policies.

On Wednesday (September 8) PCC Philip Wilkinson published a statement backing his Surrey counterpart, Lisa Townsend’s attack on LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall’s trans inclusivity policy.

Wiltshire Councillor for Corsham Pickwick, Helen Belcher, said the implications of Mr Wilkinson’s statement made her and others feel “frightened”.

Salisbury Journal: Swindon and Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip WilkinsonSwindon and Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson

“It’s a really nasty and antagonistic statement, which he is trying to gloss over as being inclusive. And he’s being the exact opposite of inclusive,” she said.

“He used the phrase ‘biological men’, now, people who use that phrase are almost always those people who are campaigning to remove trans people’s existing rights.

“By using that phrase, most trans people will immediately know that he's talking about trans women, not men.

“He’s saying, effectively, that trans women should not be in women’s spaces and he specifically mentions women’s prisons and toilets.”

Cllr Belcher pointed out that trans women have been able to use women-only spaces legally for decades.

“If I was to use a public toilet in Wiltshire and I was maliciously reported, what level of confidence could I now have in a police force that is ultimately accountable to him?” she continued.

Cllr Belcher wrote to Mr Wilkinson on Thursday morning asking for a meeting and received a response for a meeting on Monday lunchtime.

“He’s caused massive alarm and distress,” she said.

“A number of people have contacted me saying how frightened they are now because they are trans or because they have trans people in their families. A number of others have said to me how appalling his comments are.

“He needs to withdraw his statement, correct himself and apologise.

“I would want to meet with him rather than him simply withdrawing his statement because of the outrage.

“Under my reading of the Public Order Act he has caused alarm and distress, he has clearly and deliberately targeted a protected minority group.

“He needs to understand the impact of what he has done.”

Mr Wilkinson said: “I have said I would meet with Cllr Belcher and I look forward to discussing her concerns and hearing about how we can continue to support an inclusive society for all.”

Swindon and Wiltshire Pride, too, criticised the PCC over his comments.

In a statement on social media, the organisation said it publicly opposed the comments made by Mr Wilkinson.

“We strongly oppose his views on Stonewall, as well as his opinions on the trans community,” it said.

“We want to ensure everyone feels safe to be who they are and we will continue to support everyone and provide help wherever possible.”

Following the backlash over his statement supporting Surrey PCC Lisa Townsend and his opinions on inclusivity in policing – Mr Wilkinson released a statement to say he was not opposed to the trans community.

Mr Wilkinson added: “Treating every human being with due sensitivity and compassion – regardless of sex, gender or ethnicity – is vitally important to me.

“I want there to be a respected, and respectful, place in our society for all.

“I have been clear, I am not opposed to the trans community, or any other of our minority groups or those with protected characteristics, or taking away any hard-won rights.

“My view is that there will always be some who use their strength to intimidate those less strong, or to exploit any circumstances to intimidate or harm others. I will not support them.

“I will not support those who promote a narrow ideology and political agenda that is exclusive or divisive, and promotes intolerance of each other and every person’s right to have an opinion.

“But I must be clear, the rights of one community must be carefully considered alongside all others.

“It is right that all of our society have an equal voice and one community should not drown out another, regardless of their viewpoint.

Get more Salisbury news

You can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date.

If you want online news with fewer ads, unlimited access and reader rewards - plus a chance to support our local journalism - find out more about registering or a digital subscription.

Email newsdesk@salisburyjournal.co.uk with your comments, pictures, letters and news stories.