LGBT hate crime increased during 2020, figures show
- Credit: PA
The number of sexual orientation hate crimes recorded by police during 2020 increased in both Suffolk and Essex, latest figures have revealed.
The statistics, which were obtained through Freedom of Information requests by the Press Association, revealed Suffolk police recorded 146 sexual orientation hate crimes in 2019 and 175 in 2020.
In Essex, the figure rose from 448 in 2019 to 498 in 2020.
However, transphobic hate crimes in both Suffolk and Essex fell in 2020 compared with 2019.
In Suffolk, the number dropped from 37 in 2019 to 22 in 2020, while in Essex the figure fell from 102 to 90.
Violent transphobic hate crime also dropped in both counties in 2020 compared with 2019 - from 24 to 10 in Suffolk and 56 to 45 in Essex.
A spokesman for Suffolk police said the force has worked to raise awareness of what hate crime is, which has led to more reports.
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He said: “Hate crime in any form is unacceptable in today’s society and can have a devastating and often life changing impact on the victim.
"Finding the perpetrators who commit the crime online brings its own challenges, but we still take it very seriously, and are developing skills though our digital support officers to assist in these often complex investigations.
“We want victims to be confident in coming forward, and we work with partners and external support groups to further raise awareness of hate crime and encourage wider reporting.
"We also provide inputs to school children to ensure the implications of hate crime are raised with them and its unacceptability in modern society.
"Through hate crime scrutiny panels, we regularly review investigations and raise awareness amongst our staff and the community, to encourage reporting of hate crime and provide the appropriate support to people affected by it."
Superintendent Richard Melton, the Essex Police lead for hate crime, said: “First and foremost, our clear message is that hate crime will not be tolerated in Essex.
“I believe people are increasingly confident in reporting incidents to us, but equally I know there will be victims who do no contact police.
“We want people to come forward and let us deal with the people that are perpetrating crimes against them. It’s wrong and needs to be challenged. That information will allow us to identify themes and take targeted action against those that perpetrate the hatred. This includes working with perpetrators to understand and tackle the root cause of their prejudice where appropriate.
“We recognise the problems that hate crime causes and how it can escalate. What starts as low-level anti-social behaviour can grow into community tensions. Tensions then normalise hatred, the hatred then grows, and we have offences committed by those motivated by hate.
“We’re dealing with problems at a community level and learning every day about how to deal more effectively with hate crime, and we’re becoming more effective at working with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to get better outcomes for the victims.”
Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, said, "All hate crime should be condemned. We all need to be mindful of the consequences of this pernicious crime and do everything possible to make sure there is proper respect for others.
"This year extra resources have been allocated to tackle this crime and improve detection rates and bring the offenders to justice. I hope this investment shows we do take all have crime very seriously and would encourage anyone who has been victim of hate crime to report it."