West Midlands Police probe 170 violent homophobic crimes in nine months

More than 170 violent homophobic crimes were reported to West Midlands Police in the first nine months of this year.

West Midlands Police probe 170 violent homophobic crimes in nine months

The figure of 174 which was recorded between January and October, compared to 184 in 2013 and 165 in 2012.

Nationally nearly half of the UK's police forces have reported a rise in the number of violent homophobic offences recorded so far this year.

Staffordshire Police recorded 26 homophobic assaults between January and October, compared with 35 in 2013 and 57 in 2012 while West Mercia Police has recorded 22 violent homophobic crimes in 2014, compared with 33 in 2013 and 26 in 2012.

Staffordshire Police temporary chief constable Jane Sawyers is the , national policing lead for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues (LGBT).

She said: "Targeting someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is totally unacceptable.

"This abuse affects people's right to feel safe, secure and confident about themselves.

"Police forces across the UK are committed to reducing hate crime and improving services to victims.

"We know that homophobic hate crime disproportionately affects young people, who are amongst the most likely to suffer, but also to perpetrate hate crime.

"We are also aware that traditionally there has been under-reporting from the LGBT community.

"The police service has been working hard to ensure the community feels confident to come forward and report hate incidents. All such reports will be handled with professionalism and understanding."

Gay rights charity Stonewall warned that homophobic hate crime was 'a real issue in the UK' and authorities must'"continue to take this type of vile abuse seriously'.

The charity's spokesman Richard Lane said: "We believe that more and more victims and witnesses of homophobic attacks are building up the courage to speak to others and report these instances to the police.

"Hate crime is a key area of our work at Stonewall and our campaigns aim to not just encourage individuals to report attacks, but also for the police to try and make people feel more at ease with approaching them.

"We know, in the past, many have been hesitant to report crimes to the police for fear of the consequences."

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