Calls for inquiry as LGBT+ hate crime doubles in UK

By Hugo Greenhalgh

LGBT+ campaigners called on Thursday for a public inquiry into why prosecutions for hate crime had plunged in Britain despite a doubling of homophobic incidents in the past five years.

The number of hate crimes in Britain against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community grew by more than 130% between 2014-15 and 2018-19, according to a Freedom of Information request to British police forces by the BBC.

Figures show reported incidences grew from 5,807 to 13,530 over the period. The BBC report did not cover Scotland.

However, the broadcaster's investigation showed that the number of prosecutions had dropped proportionally from 20% of the overall number of hate crimes reported to just 8%.

"We'd like to see an investigation into why there has been this drop," said Laura Russell, director of campaigns, policy and research at LGBT+ charity Stonewall.

"It's vital that we improve confidence in the way the criminal justice system deals with anti-LGBT crime. A crucial part of this is making sure perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice," she added.

All sorts of hate crimes are on the rise, according to Home Office statistics. Official figures reveal race-related incidents increased by 14% between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Religiously motivated hate crimes grew by 40% over the same period.

Russell's call for an enquiry was echoed by Nick Antjoule, head of hate crime services at LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop.

"There does need (to be) some sort of public inquiry," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Thursday.

"When you look at the data, hate crime against LGBT+ people is far more likely to involve very serious violence than other forms of hate crime (against other minorities)."

Official police figures show a 27% increase in the number of reported hate crimes against LGBT+ people in Britain over the year to March 2018.

The country has witnessed a rash of incidents over the past few months.

On Wednesday, a 13-year-old boy was arrested following an assault outside a LGBT+ youth club in Wales.

Last month, four teenagers were charged with hate crimes after a lesbian couple was attacked on a London bus in May.

And in June, two actors from an award-winning LGBT+ play in the southern city of Southampton were attacked after the women kissed on the street.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council said many cases lacked witnesses and police were plagued by "scarce evidence", hampering prospects for an arrest.

"Police will investigate crime reports and will pursue action against those responsible where there is evidence to do so," he added.

In a statement, Baroness Williams, Britain's minister for countering extremism, said the perpetrators of hate crimes represented "the very worst of our society".

Authorities "across the criminal justice system and government are working hard to empower victims to report incidents and ensure perpetrators are punished," she added.

© Thomson Reuters Foundation

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Well, problem number one is that the designation of hate crime makes the motive a crime rather than a clearly provable act. And if you are going to punish people for a motive they simply lie about what their motive was to avoid the extra punishment. So who knows what the hell is going with the apparent disparity between a rise in attacks on the LGBTQ community and a fall in hate crime convictions? Sometimes even a gay man can get beaten up just for refusing to hand over his money and not for his sexual orientation too you know.

The whole thing could simply be driven by the fact that more people are openly LGBTQ now. The more that are, the more we will know were victimized for any reason.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sometimes even a gay man can get beaten up just for refusing to hand over his money

Then that’s not a hate crime and wouldn’t be included.

The onus is on the police to prove hate crimes.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The UK's hate crime laws and, particularly, the recording of these crimes need an overhaul. Legislated categories are hate crimes based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability. Misogyny based incidents are, bafflingly, not seen as hate crimes, nor are those connected to age. The rules of what constitutes a hate crime have changed over the past couple of years so anything that causes fear or distress to any legislated category or any group the local police force deem to be targets of a hate crime are recorded by the police as 'hate crimes' even though no actual crime has been committed. Also, stating an opinion about a particular group is recorded by some forces as a 'hate crime', when no crime has been committed. For example, threatening someone because they are gay is, rightly, a hate crime. Saying you do not agree with homosexuality is not a crime, but many forces are recording this as a hate crime and cautioning individuals even though no crime has been committed.

Police setting their own definitions have resulted in numerous incidents of people being visited by police at home, being pressured to accept a police caution, which is listed as a crime on your record, when no crime has actually been committed. It's scandalous. This group is taking the College of Police to the High Court to get them to change their guidelines.

Saying all this, the number of crimes committed against people due to their sexual orientation, race, religion etc has increased noticeably since the Brexit referendum, people who have these beliefs now feel they have been given permission by the government and society in general to act this way.

Th UK has been undergoing some horrible, malignant mass psychosis since the referendum, I hardly recognise my country anymore.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Then that’s not a hate crime and wouldn’t be included.

Actually, many police forces would also record it has a hate crime.

The onus is on the police to prove hate crimes.

No, if the police decides it's a hate crime, then it is.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Th UK has been undergoing some horrible, malignant mass psychosis since the referendum, I hardly recognise my country anymore.

I hope this will pass. Mate, I lived there for a long time & one thing that shone through the despair was the willingness for people to step up and help/show solidarity. The haters grab all the headlines but there's a lot of good people there, too.

As was witnessed after the Admiral Duncan and other atrocities.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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