HAMPSHIRE Police is today honoured for being the best gay-friendly force in the country.

Tonight the county's police force will be officially named as the joint-top gay-friendly force in the UK and the third best public and private sector employer of lesbian, gay and bisexual workers.

It will be placed in the 'Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2008 which showcases Britain's top 100 organisations committed to eliminating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

It's the third year Hampshire Constabulary has submitted an entry to the Stonewall Index - being placed 14th in 2006 and 11th in 2007.

The force has been recognised primarily for the work of its LGBT Resource Group which was set up six years ago to support LGBT officers and staff.

The unit works alongside the personnel department to help the constabulary adapt to new laws regarding sexual orientation in the workplace.

PC Matt Parker, 32, a member of the Priority Crime Team in Lyndhurst, has told how it was meeting the Lesbian and Gay Liaison officers in Southampton's gay community that prompted him to choose his career.

He said: "When I joined the police I was contacted by other officers in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Group who offered me support.

"I've always been open about my sexuality and from day one with the police I've felt comfortable being out to my colleagues."