Transgender hate crime rising in Thames Valley, figures show

    Thames Valley Police are dealing with more incidents of hate crime against transgender people, with LGBT charity Stonewall saying the figures are “a wake up call”.

    The latest Home Office data shows 28 incidents were recorded by the police between April 2017 and March 2018, up from 14 in 2016-17.

    Six years earlier, when this data was first published, 20 incidents were reported.

    Over the same period 201 people reported homophobic hate crime to Thames Valley Police, an increase of 20% on the year previously.

    However, Stonewall believes this is just a fraction of the true number of trans people who have experienced hate crime.

    Laura Russell, head of policy at the charity, said: "No lesbian, gay, bi or trans person should have to experience homophobic, biphobic or transphobic abuse. These statistics are a wake up call.

    "While some may suggest this rise is due to increased confidence in reporting, we fear these represent the tip of the iceberg in hate crimes against LGBT people."

    The Home Office said believes these rises are due to improved reporting, and do not necessarily reflect genuine increases in hate crime.

    Ms Russell continued: "From our research into hate crime, we know underreporting is still a major issue with four in five anti-LGBT hate crimes and incidents going unreported, with younger LGBT people particularly reluctant to go to the police."

    The research, by YouGov, shows that trans people are more than twice as likely to experience hate crime as other members of the LGBT community.

    Ms Russell added: "Although data from the Crown Prosecution Services shows that referrals are still low, there has been an increase in sentencing which is good to see."

    In Thames Valley, the total number of recorded hate crime has increased by 81% over the last five years.

    This is partly because of improvements in the way crimes are recorded, but there have been spikes after events such as the Brexit referendum and the terrorist attacks.

    The majority of hate crimes, reported to Thames Valley Police, were racist incidents. The figure increased by 30% compared with the previous year, with 1,909 cases recorded by officers in 2017-18.

    Hate crimes are defined as those perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic.

    Five strands are collated in this data: race or ethnicity; religion or beliefs; sexual orientation; disability; and transgender identity.

    Ahead of the release of the statistics, the Government published a refreshed strategy for tackling hate crime.

    The Law Commission will carry out a review to explore how to make current legislation more effective and consider if there should be additional "protected characteristics" to cover offences motivated by, or demonstrating, hatred based on sex and gender characteristics, or hatred of older people.

    Stonewall said it was “enormously encouraging” that hate crime laws were being reviewed.

    “Currently, crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity and disability are not treated equally to those based on race and faith,” Ms Russell explained.

    “This has to change. We’re also pleased to see plans to develop police force training so officers are better able to ensure hate crimes, including those based on anti-LGBT views, are handled sensitively and are also properly recorded and monitored.

    “This will help improve the confidence in the way the criminal justice system deals with LGBT hate crime.”

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