A CUMBRIAN LGBT organisation has spoken out after figures revealed that homophobia was behind one in five hate crimes recorded in the county last year.

Home Office data shows Cumbria Constabulary recorded 124 homophobic and biphobic hate crimes in the year to March – 25 fewer than the year before.

This means that someone's sexual orientation was a motivating factor in 18 per cent of the 681 hate crimes recorded in the county last year.

Pam Eland, project manager at LGBThq, said that the actual number of homophobic hate crimes was likely to be higher.

"I think the numbers are not showing [the reality] because people won’t report hate crimes," she said.

Pam said that hate crimes can have a long term effect on people who suffer from them.

"There’s a mental health impact," she said.

"Not trusting the police, not trusting society, fear of going out. They don’t feel safe at all."

She added: "Most hate crimes are just throw away comments or a smack in the mouth, but you can’t prove anything.

"It’s happening everywhere, it’s happening every day.

"It doesn’t disappear, it’s always there."

The figures show transphobia was a factor in 27 hate crimes recorded by Cumbria Constabulary last year.

And there were 399 racially motivated incidents, 123 disability-related hate crimes and 49 offences linked to religion.

Police can record more than one motivating factor behind an offence.

In England and Wales, transphobic hate crimes more than doubled in the last five years, from 1,195 in 2016-17 to 2,630 last year, while sexual orientation crimes increased from 8,569 to 17,135.

The Home Office said that while the biggest drivers behind the rises were improvements in police recording and increased willingness from victims to come forward, the Government "could not be complacent", and a new hate crime strategy will be published this year.

Robbie de Santos, director of communications and external affairs, said the figures must be a wakeup call for addressing LGBTQ+ hate crimes.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable.

"The cowards who commit them should feel the full force of the law."