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BBC: Homophobic hate crime charges fall despite soaring reports

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Chief Bakes

Homophobic hate crime charges fall despite soaring reports

  • 11 September 2019
London Pride parade Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In London, which holds an annual Pride parade, the number of people charged or summonsed for homophobic hate crimes has fallen by around a third

Fewer people are being prosecuted for homophobic hate crimes despite rising numbers of potential victims coming forward, new figures suggest.

Recorded reports of homophobic abuse by police forces in the UK increased from 5,807 in 2014-15, to 13,530 in 2018-19.

But during the same period, the number of prosecutions fell from 1,157 to 1,058 - from 20% of all reports to 8%.

The National Police Chiefs' Council said those cases often involved a lack of witnesses and evidence.

It comes as police forces continue to call on victims to come forward.

The figures have been revealed after BBC Radio 5 Live Investigations sent a Freedom of Information request to 46 police forces across the UK and received full responses from 38 forces.

Data from Police Scotland was only partial and was not included in the analysis.

A hate crime is defined as "any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice".

'It happens two or three times a week'

Image caption Seventeen-year-old Lily Cherry was a victim of homophobic hate crime

"A guy walked up to me and my friends and said 'What is this, the fat ugly homosexual squad?'", said 17-year-old Lily Cherry, from Woodseats in Sheffield.

"We reported it to the police and they said they'd check CCTV, but nothing came of it.

"I think that the police and authorities should do more to protect people who are in the minority and they should take it more seriously and in depth.

"I think it's getting to the point where this abuse is so regular and so often reported that it can just be dismissed too easily."

South Yorkshire Police said it investigated this case but "due to the lack of CCTV and other investigative opportunities, no suspect(s) have been identified and therefore a charge in this matter is not likely."

"We take all reports of hate crime incredibly seriously and would welcome a further conversation with the victim in this matter to inform our learning," it added.

Two of the most dramatic rises in reports of homophobic hate crime were experienced by Yorkshire's biggest forces - West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire Police.

West Yorkshire Police has seen reports increase from 172 to 961 over the past five years, while South Yorkshire police has seen reports rise from 73 to 375.

Angela Williams, of West Yorkshire Police, said rising reports were in part down to "improvements in the way we record crime and the fact that many victims have the confidence to come forward".

The proportion of crimes that resulted in a charge or summons, however, fell over the same time, from 19% to 4% in West Yorkshire and from 10% to 3% in South Yorkshire.

Two of Britain's largest police forces - London's Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police - have also seen an increase in the number of reported crimes.

The Met saw reports rise from 1,561 in 2014-2015 to 2,315 in 2018-19, while the number of cases that led to charges or summons fell from 246 to 165.

Greater Manchester Police saw reports rise from 423 to 1,159, with the number of charges falling from 82 to 50.

A Met Police spokesman said: "Many of these non-violent offences present less evidential opportunities and victims often feel that there is a barrier between bringing the matter to court and prefer to make police aware of each offence."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Police said there was little evidence for many homophobic hate crimes and victims may chose not to bring a case to court

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council said: "Unfortunately, with many cases, there are often no witnesses to these crimes and scarce evidence - this may lead to police being unable to identify a suspect."

The Home Office said it was recruiting 20,000 additional police officers and investing a further £85m in the Crown Prosecution Service over the next two years to "ensure it can deal with the cases brought by the police".

Baroness Williams, minister for countering extremism, said: "Victims should not have to put up with this venomous abuse and we will do all we can to support them.

"I would urge anyone who is affected by or has witnessed homophobic abuse to contact the police. Partners across the criminal justice system and government are working hard to empower victims to report incidents and ensure perpetrators are punished."

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skydiver

Charge rates for pretty much every crime apart from murder has dropped during the last 8 years.  Its almost as if both the police and CPS are understaffed and over run with work.

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David

But again, are charges falling because not all of the allegations are genuine (for want of a better word)?

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Zulu 22

It seems to be another case of Indoctrination by Propaganda. People are surely entitled to say that they disagree with the whole LGBT issue and homosexuality. The fact that some might hold that view does not mean to say that are committing hate crime. There are certainly such cases but that are firmly held views.

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Reasonable Man
14 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

It seems to be another case of Indoctrination by Propaganda. People are surely entitled to say that they disagree with the whole LGBT issue and homosexuality. The fact that some might hold that view does not mean to say that are committing hate crime. There are certainly such cases but that are firmly held views.

But these are the cases where the police have said its a hate crime. There are plenty of reports that don’t amount to crimes that are recorded as hate incidents. 

Are you suggesting that the police are recording things as crimes that are not crimes? 

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David

Let's not forget the police might not deem it a hate crime, but if the reporter states that it is, then it is despite what the police feel.

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Reasonable Man
12 minutes ago, David said:

Let's not forget the police might not deem it a hate crime, but if the reporter states that it is, then it is despite what the police feel.

Wrong. 

Anyone can consider an incident was motivated by hate so it is a hate incident. Crimes should only be recorded as crimes if the circumstances amount to a crime. As per NCRS / Home Office Counting Rules. 

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David

Unless things have changed:

Quote

For recording purposes, the perception of the victim, or any other person (see 1.2.4 Other person), is the defining factor in determining whether an incident is a hate incident, or in recognising the hostility element of a hate crime. The victim does not have to justify or provide evidence of their belief, and police officers or staff should not directly challenge this perception. Evidence of the hostility is not required for an incident or crime to be recorded as a hate crime or hate incident.

That suggests to me that the crime will be a hate crime and thus recorded as such if the perceived victim says that's what it is.

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IrateShrike
On 12/09/2019 at 18:38, Reasonable Man said:

Wrong. 

Anyone can consider an incident was motivated by hate so it is a hate incident. Crimes should only be recorded as crimes if the circumstances amount to a crime. As per NCRS / Home Office Counting Rules. 

That's kind of wrong too because your answer is selective.

Any incident repoorted to police (crime or not) that the victim or anyone else perceives as a hate incident must be recorded, whether it is an actual crime or not.

The police will apply the NCRS framework to decide whether to record a crime or not, but there is no filter or discretion around the hate aspect.

Edited by IrateShrike
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Reasonable Man
3 hours ago, IrateShrike said:

That's kind of wrong too because your answer is selective.

Any incident repoorted to police (crime or not) that the victim or anyone else perceives as a hate incident must be recorded, whether it is an actual crime or not.

The police will apply the NCRS framework to decide whether to record a crime or not, but there is no filter or discretion around the hate aspect.

That’s what I thought I said. Having read it all again I may have misinterpreted what @Davidposted. 

So yes any Incident reporter by anyone has to be recorded as an incident (NSIR definition). And any crime reported by anyone (victim or person acting on behalf of as per HOCR/NCRS) must be recorded as a crime. 

Once those crimes and incidents have been recorded they have to be flagged as ‘hate’ if anyone considers them to be so. 

The point I was saying was wrong - and apologies to @David if he was not suggesting this - was that the police don’t have to record a crime just because someone says it’s a hate crime. I have seen over recording of crimes from officers because they think the ‘hate’ aspect means it must be a crime when no crime has been made out. 

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