The London Metropolitan Police has recruited its first transsexual officer, but he will not be able to conduct searches because the force could be sued.

The 39-year-old recruit was born a woman but underwent a sex change to become a man.

Under the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act, suspects can only be searched by an officer of the same sex. Because the recruit was born a woman, he will be unable to search male suspects, and because he is now a man he will not be able to search female suspects. Failure to adhere to the act could leave the Met open to legal action by suspects.

Senior personnel staff at the Met decided to hire the recruit despite legal issues. It has been agreed that he will not carry out any searches.

A police spokesperson said, "We welcome this opportunity as this is an under-represented group in the Met."

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