David Kuczora: Pragmatic policing to take Pride in

By David Kuczora on May 28, 13 08:50 AM in Crime

Peter Tatchell opened the press conference for Birmingham Pride 2013 to spread the campaign in support of gay marriage. He spoke of love and acceptance and how far we've come; none of the angry activism he's best known for.

It shows how far the UK has progressed in terms of LGBT equality. And what a change indeed. The police used to lock people up just for being gay. At this year's Pride - despite a record 75,000 attendees - they arrested nobody. A quite astounding statistic which shows just how attitudes have changed.

Were some people drunk? Yes. Was there the faint whiff of marijuana in the air? Occasionally. Was there rowdiness? Sometimes. Were the police and security turning a blind eye? Not at all. There was just no swivel-eyed witch hunt, but instead a fair and sensible approach to managing the revellers.

I saw the Inspector leading the policing effort standing atop the Barclays Spectrum double-decker bus during the parade through town. Stuart Bill is about seven feet tall and runs marathons, so it's difficult not to notice him. He looks like a proper copper. "I wasn't invited onto the float," he laughed when I bumped into him later. "I just assumed nobody was going to stop me."

During the day the police posed with Pride-goers for photos and happily let them wear their hats or helmets. Genuinely people seemed to be having fun. 

Backstage on Saturday afternoon I caught up with Free Radio's Dan Morrissey, who was hosting the Main Stage. He reckoned the feel of the event was much improved on previous years: "It's a totally different atmosphere. Wrist-banding is the best thing they've done. Has kept out the people who were just there to get drunk and it's been brilliant for it."

I'd be inclined to agree. As I left The Village in the wee small hours of Sunday morning, the streets felt safe.

DK at Pride

Me, Miss Marty and Dan Morrissey from Free Radio

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Interested Onlooker said:

Lovely to read that the 'riff raff' were kept away by the use of wristbands that had to be paid for.

The overriding sense of equality rings through the air when people are excluded (and then called riff raff) for possibly not being able to afford entry.

Kudos to you all

TheNotoriousFIG said:

In fairness £13 isn't excluding that many people from the event. It's on the same time every year so you could easily plan ahead & put money to one side to save. But if it does keep the bad kids out so be it! In previous years I've gone it's almost been overrun with wrong uns getting hammered & trying to spoil everyone else's fun. I've witness fights, homophobic comments shouted & aggro confrontations from the sorts of kids that hijack every Fete, Carnival, etc & end up spoiling it for others. Pride is about having fun & supporting the gay community. If you are openly homophobic, just want to go there to get hammered & your goal is to have a punch up you should be excluded. End of.

Interested Onlooker said:

Nice to see that the comments have been amended to remove the silly comment.

As for the other comment, people are struggling to pay bills, feed themselves etc so £31 could be quite exclusive for many people, gay or not.

But backslapping and sneering is fine it seems.

Well done Birmingham Post for this new, edgy (until someone points out offence) column

I await the next one with baited breath

Kyle said:

Nice blog. I completely agree that the wristband idea was excellent. People may complain that pride is too expensive but it was the best pride I have been to. Birmingham should be proud!

Gideon Wilberflake said:

I couldn't agree with the "Interested Onlooker". Charging people for entrance to a festival that should promote equality is counter productive and will exclude people who wished to be there.

Not all of those who are excluded by price are 'beer drinking ne'er do wells' and painting them all in this light is abhorrent.

More pride, less patronising might work

Ulysses B Grimble said:

I must take offence at the above comments as they do not represent the majority of people who will read this blog.

If the 'riff raff' were kept out and the event was 'the best ever' then surely the organisers (and the police) have found a system that works for these types of events.

More wristbands I say

Keriann Lessi said:

As someone who attended Pride, I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was to see wristbands introduced.

Whether people take offence to it or not, nobody wants to share the day with the local riff-raff drinking tins of Special Brew and shouting obscenities.

And as for the money situation; for one month put away £2, for the rest of the year, add a pound to this and hey presto, you have next year's entrance fee. It's really not that difficult.

God bless the wristbands and let's ensure that next year we also ban the riff-raff!

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