Merseyside’s Police Chiefs have today paid tribute to the Chair of Merseyside’s Independent Advisory Group Penelope Bassi who died last week.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy and Chief Constable Andy Cooke QPM told how many would miss Penny’s ‘warmth, humour and invaluable contribution’.
Penny was a member of the Merseyside Independent Advisory Group (MIAG) for more than 10 years and had chaired it for the last two years. The MIAG was set up in 1999 to provide an independent voice on local community issues and particularly represent the interest of minority communities. Penny was committed to preventing other people from experiencing the hate crime she had suffered for many years and helped to write policy guidelines on how police officers should deal with transgender people.
As Chair of the MIAG, she provided independent advice on issues around equality and diversity, informed hate crime initiatives and sat on high-level strategic policing meetings around major and critical incidents.
Jane said: “I was very sorry to learn of Penny’s death. Penny was a dedicated and committed volunteer and a powerful advocate for trans people. She gave much of her time to raising awareness of and tackling hate crime and preventing others from suffering the same abuse she had experienced.
“For many years, Penny fought for inclusion and acceptance and championed the struggle for LGBTI rights. Her warmth, humour and energetic contribution to equality and justice on Merseyside will be sorely missed.
“I am sure I speak for many people when I offer my heartfelt sympathy to all those who knew and loved Penny at this sad time.”
Chief Constable Andy Cooke QPM, said: “Penny had extensive knowledge of the issues facing the Trans community, particularly in relation to hate crime. This has also given her an insight into the LGB community.
“In her professional life she worked with both the Trans community and disabled people and had excellent knowledge of the challenges facing disabled people. Penny used every opportunity available to her to promote diversity across all strands and more importantly the good work of the Force.
“Penny will be greatly missed by the many members of the Force, MIAG and our partner agencies who have had the pleasure to have worked with here and her loss will be felt by many.
“Penny was a true ambassador for Merseyside Police and I am pleased to say that she achieved what she joined MIAG to do and that was to make a difference.”
Penny, who was a founder member of Transwirral and worked as a disability expert in employment matters for them and for Breakthrough UK, also detailed her experiences as a transwoman on a hate crime awareness video produced by Merseyside Police which is screened at many hospital waiting rooms and GPs surgeries across the region. She also sat on the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) Local Involvement and Scrutiny panel which reviews closed cases in order to recommend improvements where necessary.
In February 2015, Penny also supported the launch of the Commissioner’s Love Not Hate campaign, which worked to raise awareness of independent hate crime reporting centres across Merseyside.
There are no suspicious circumstances around her death and the matter has been referred to the North West Wales Coroner’s Office.