Police Scotland to crack down on LGBTI hate crime

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Katy Scott
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Police Scotland and the Equality Network are planning to work together to tackle crimes faced by LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people and increase support for victims of sexual orientation motivated hate crimes.

The Equality Network is Scotland’s national LGBTI equality and human rights charity. In their cooperation with Police Scotland, the organization intends to provide a training programme for over 60 police officers at various locations around Scotland. The intended outcome for the training is that the police officers will form part of a new system of LGBTI Liaison Officers, who will be able to assist their colleagues across Police Scotland on LGBTI concerns and work with the LGBTI community to address various issues facing them.

The Equality Network will also provide training for Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service staff. Furthermore, LGBT Youth Scotland will introduce a programme across schools in Scotland to support children and teachers in addressing homophobic, transphobic and biphobic bullying. LGBT Youth Scotland is Scotland’s National charity for LGBT young people, they provide group work, one-to-one support, counselling, youth activism and participation programmes for LGBT people aged 13 to 25.

Superintendent Jim Baird of Police Scotland’s Safer Communities Department said: “Tackling hate crime is a priority for Police Scotland. We are delighted to have worked with the Equality Network. Research and studies show that hate crime against the LGBTI community is often under reported. We hope that these specially trained officers will encourage more LGBTI people to come forward with the confidence in Police Scotland to help reverse this trend.”

These initiatives form part of the National LGBT Hate Crime Partnership which combines 35 LGBT organisations from across Scotland, England and Wales. The project is being carried out on behalf of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and led by the LGBT Consortium.

Alastair Pringle, director of EHRC Scotland, said, “While attitudes towards the Scottish LGBTI community have undoubtedly improved over the years, our recent report into the state of equalities in Scotland, ‘Is Scotland Fairer’, shows that hate crime is still a serious issue.”

In Scotland, sexual orientation aggravated crime is the second most common type of hate crime but research suggests that the majority of this type of hate crime is not reported to the police. Recent research carried out by the Equality Network found that almost half of the LGBT respondents had experienced or witnessed an incident of prejudice or discrimination in the past month. This figure rose to 79% within the past year and 97% in their lifetimes.

The Scottish LGBT Equality Report also found that transgender respondents were more likely to have experienced recent prejudice or discrimination. One out of seven respondents (14%) had experienced or witnessed an incident in the last 24 hours, almost half (45%) in the last week and 91% in the last year.

The number of charges for sexual orientation aggravated crime has increased since hate crime legislation came into effect in Scotland in March 2010. 841 cases were recorded from 2014-15. Transphobic hate crime charges remain low at 21 in 2014-15, however there is evidence that suggests significant under-reporting.

It is anticipated that the joint initiative by Police Scotland and the Equality Network should increase public confidence in the police and help establish an altogether better support system for victims of hate crimes in the LGBTI community.

The GULGBTQ+ (Glasgow University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer Plus) Student Association have introduced a “Pronoun Pledge” to further tackle issues facing transgender people and make the university a much friendlier place to be a transgender person. Throughout the project, the society aims to educate people of the importance of respecting an individual’s gender identity and will be carrying out a number of awareness activities, including providing training to faculty members and speaking to university organisations about transgender concerns.