The Derbyshire Constabulary Male Voice Choir have been asked to cut ties from Derbyshire Police as part of a drive to promote gender equality within the force.
From June onwards the choir will change its name to the Derbyshire Community Male Voice Choir after chief constable Peter Goodman said he could “no longer support” a choir whose membership was almost entirely male.
Choir chairman Kevin Griffiths said the change of name has resulted from the Constabulary’s drive to promote gender equality in all aspects of its operations.
The Chief Constable invited the group, which is linked to the force as members have worn police tunics for performance in the past, to become a “mixed voices” choir- but Mr Griffiths said the choir felt “unable to accept” his suggestion.
As a result, the Chief Constable gave notice that the authorisation for the choir to use “Derbyshire Constabulary” in its name had been revoked.
The choir have also been requested to take steps to disassociate themselves from Derbyshire Police.
“We fully understand the rationale behind Mr Goodman’s decisioN, said Mr Griffiths, “However, after considering the logistics and difficulties of undertaking such a transformation we felt unable to accept his invitation. We are very good at what we do, and to undertake such a change would have required the recruitment of up to 50 new female members with a host of associated costs.
“We felt that to attempt such a change would have destroyed the choir and felt it was better to sever our association with the constabulary and continue the good work we do under a new name.”
Mr Griffiths said the choir would acquire new clothing and seek to create a “more contempory” image for their forthcoming concert season.
“The choir are seeking to attract a number of new members and believe that their association with the constabulary may have prevented potential members from joining in the past.
“We have worn a police tunic for performances in the past, originally worn by police officers in the 1960 and 1980s. This leads some people to believe that we are all serving police officers. It couldn’t be further from the truth as the choir are now entirely civilian.
“We see this as a great opportunity to develop the choir even further over the next few years,” he said.
“We are a very active and successful choir which raises thousands of pounds for charity each year. Since our formation in 1956 we estimate we have raised in the region of £750,000 for local good causes.
“The choir has not received any direct financial support from the force for many years. The only major change for us is a move to a new rehearsal room which we are currently undertaking.”
Chief Constable Peter Goodman said: “We are an equal opportunities employer and we are committed to having an organisation where there are no enclaves where people from different backgrounds cannot go.
“We need to represent our communities in every aspect of our public presence. Having a male voice choir representing the organisation is incompatible with this, especially as there are no members of the choir who are employed by or who volunteer with us. I wish them all the very best for the future.”