Tuesday, 23 June 2015 20:08

Rural 'hate crimes' go unreported

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural 'hate crimes' go unreported

THOUSANDS of hate crimes against people targeted because of their sexual orientation go unreported – particularly in rural areas, says a report.

Some 35,000 cases of hate crime against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people go unreported every year, says the Leicester University study.

The report from Leicester University's Centre for Hate Studies reveals that 88% of LGBT people had experienced some form of hate incident leaving them with emotional and physical scars.

But only 14% of LGBT victims reported their most recent experience of hate crime to the police.

Victims fear how they will be treated if they report a hate crime – and perpetrators are evading justice as a result, according to researchers.

Additional evidence shows that while victims of transphobia can be targeted up to 50 times in one year, only three in ten reports the incident.

Report author Stevie-Jade Hardy said: "Hate crimes are a routine, and mostly unreported feature of many LGB and T people's daily lives.

"Simply expecting victims to report without taking meaningful action to dismantle perceived and actual barriers is futile, particularly when the evidence shows that many have little confidence in the capacity of authorities to act empathetically or effectively."

The research work, which is supported by the government, was produced for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The publication of the report coincides with a major new campaign to raise awareness of LGBT hate crime by a partnership of 31 organisations, funded by the commission.

Led by the LGBT Consortium, this is the first time that groups from across England and Wales have come together to tackle hate crime.

There is a particular focus on rural communities where reporting is especially low.

LGBT Consortium chief executive Paul Roberts said: "LGBT communities are already working with the police to remove barriers to reporting, and offer practical and emotional support.

"However, too often, LGBT people don't know they are experiencing hate crime or just shrug it off.

"Collectively, we are saying it is time to move on from this. Our message today is recognise hate crime when it happens, report it, and get support when you need it."

The report lists a variety of reasons for under-reporting.

Reasons includ the "normalisation" of hate incidents, concern about wasting police time, fears about being outed and previous negative experiences with the police.

The report recommends increased community outreach by police to build trust with LGBT communities and an increase in third party reporting systems where needed.

The Commission is also funding the UK's only 24/7 nationwide LGBT hate crime helpline, which is run by Stop Hate UK.

Other regional helplines can be found at www.lgbthatecrime.org.uk.

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