Homophobic hate crimes increase but numbers prosecuted fall
The number of homophobic hate crimes reported to police have more than doubled in the past five years – yet only eight per cent result in prosecutions, an investigation by the BBC has found.
Reports of homophobic abuse recorded by UK police forces rose from 5,807 in 2014/15 to 13,530 in 2018/19, according to data obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live Investigations through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.
However, the number of prosecutions fell from 1,157 to 1,058 over the same period. Twenty per cent of cases had resulted in prosecutions in 2014/15 but this fell to eight per cent in 2018/19.
Full responses to the FoI request were received from 38 UK forces. Lee Broadstock, the secretary of the national LGBT Police Network, told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday: “We have seen an increase in confidence in victims to report it to us and I think that’s where that increase has come from.
“We have improved confidence of people to report, but they are reporting some of the lower-level incidents, some of the shouting in the streets, a lot of the online hate is being reported to us.
“Some things are proving a lot more difficult for us to take forward, especially with online hate, such as on Twitter … It’s very difficult to get that user account from Twitter because it’s based in the US so it’s very difficult for us to prosecute.”
The figures also reveal regional variations in the level of reporting and prosecution. Reports to West Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Police have increased more than fivefold in the past five years, from 172 to 961 and 73 to 375 respectively. However, the proportion that resulted in a charge or summons fell from 19 per cent to four per cent in West Yorkshire, and from ten to three per cent in South Yorkshire over the period.
Reports to Greater Manchester Police increased from 423 to 1,159 but the number resulting in prosecutions fell from 82 to 50.
In London, the Metropolitan Police Service said there had been an increase in reported offences from 1,561 in 2014/15 to 2,315 in 2018/19, but that the number of cases leading to a charge or summons fell from 246 to 165 over the five years.