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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Cumbria police target lesbian and gay hate crimes

A 20-strong police team is taking up new roles as officers dedicated to lesbian and gay hate crime to target the “vast under-reporting” of it.

The team was launched this week to mark Gay History month and provide members of the public with specially trained officers to deal with hate crimes.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable, Michelle Skeer, said the force was aware of “vast under-reporting” of homophobic and transgender hate crime and they hoped the creation of the team would help improve it.

“In 2012, there were 36 homophobic crimes reported along with 3 transgender hate crimes,” she said. “To put this into context, we received 166 reports of race hate crime in the same period. “We don’t believe that there is a big issue with gay, lesbian or transgender people being targeted in Cumbria – however, these low numbers of reports suggest that victims may not be contacting us, which causes us concern.”

Mrs Skeer said the officers had received special training to increase their understanding of the issues and some of them were members of the gay community.

She said members of the public could report issues at third party reporting centres, away from police stations.

“Put simply, hate crime is unacceptable, so we are doing all we can to tackle the issue in Cumbria,” she added. “Every incident reported to us is investigated thoroughly and we have measures in place to ensure victims receive the support they need.

“The most important thing is we don’t want victims to suffer in silence. We need them to come forward, confide in us and we will do everything possible to ensure offenders are prosecuted so they won’t be targeted again.”

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