LGBTI equality charity welcomes launch of Liaison Officers

Chief Constable Phil Gormley.

Chief Constable Phil Gormley.

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National lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality charity the Equality Network has welcomed the launch of Police Scotland’s LGBTI Liaison Officers at the start of Hate Crime Awareness Week.

Earlier this year the Equality Network delivered a training programme for police at locations around the country.

Tim Hopkins, Equality Network Director said: “We were happy to provide training on LGBTI hate crime issues to nearly 100 police officers across Scotland earlier this year, and it’s great to see that Police Scotland have now set up a national network of Liaison Officers. This will help LGBTI people have the confidence to report hate incidents to the police, and will mean that there should always be a police officer they can make contact with who has an understanding of LGBTI issues.”

The Equality Network is currently surveying LGBTI people’s experiences of hate crime in Scotland, with interim results from over 1000 respondents showing that 61% of LGBTI people have been the target of a hate crime, the majority of which happened in the last year. 70% of LGBTI people who have experienced a hate crime however, did not report the incident(s) to the police.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley said: “Tackling all forms of Hate Crime remains an absolute priority for Police Scotland. Every incident has a significant impact on the victim, their family and wider communities.

“Hate Crime can manifest itself in lots of different ways, for example, offensive graffiti, having your property vandalised, having your belongings stolen, people swearing or making abusive remarks making you feel intimidated or harassed, through online abuse, being threatened or being physically attacked. All of this behaviour is completely unacceptable, and whether criminal or not, Police Scotland wants to know about in order to avoid behaviour escalating and being unchallenged.

“Examples of Police Scotland’s commitment to tackling Hate Crime include work with the ‘I Am Me’ charity to provide support for people with disabilities through our ‘Keep Safe’ scheme in partnership with the public and private sectors; and the recently developed training for more than 90 officers to work with the country’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) communities to help prevent Hate Crime.”

Cathleen Lauder, a transgender woman from Edinburgh, said: “In April 2015 I was the victim of transphobic abuse while using public transport. Soon afterwards, I reported what happened to the police. I was in a state of shock, despite managing to keep a cool head during the incident. When I reported the incident my nerves gradually kicked-in. I had to wait around for an hour to give my statement, but when I did the two officers were ever so nice. The following day I went back to the station and handed in some evidence.

“A week or two after, I had to give my statement again to another officer who visited me at my home. This officer visited and called me several times to keep me updated on the situation over the following few months. I did feel confused that I had to give my statement twice, but overall I felt I was being taken care of by the police.”

Referring to the new LGBT Liaison Officers, Cathleen also said: “I do think most people in the LGBTI community would feel safe talking to them.”

The Equality Network’s hate crime survey of LGBTI people in Scotland is still open for responses, and can be found here: www.lgbtihatecrime.org

More information on hate crime and how to report it can be found on the Police Scotland website: http://www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us/hate-crime-and-third-party-reporting/