Reports Of Homophobic Crimes More Than Quadruple In Doncaster In Five Years

Police and LGBT+ organisers in Doncaster say the rise is due to an increase in reporting rather than an actual increase of homophobic crimes.

By Lucy, Doncaster · May 4, 2020

Pic: Shutterstock

95 homophobic crimes were committed in Doncaster in 2019, a sharp increase from the 19 committed in 2015.

According to South Yorkshire Police, counts of offences in Doncaster with an aggravating factor of sexual orientation have increased by 458% between 2014 and 2019.

However, South Yorkshire Police pointed out that the large rise is due to the low number of offences being reported previously.

The data was sourced by media literacy charity The Student View following a Freedom of Information request submitted to the police.

Over five years, harassment rose from two to 16 incidents, peaking at 18 in 2018, while crimes of ‘public fear, alarm or distress’ rose from six to 35 incidents.

While no incidents of ‘malicious communication’ were recorded in 2015 or 2016, 16 were recorded in 2019. 2019 also saw twelve assaults, half with injuries and half without.

Speaking on the findings, Laura Russell, Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research, Stonewall said: ‘These figures are an upsetting reminder of how much we have to do for LGBT equality. Behind each of these statistics is a person who’s faced hatred simply because of who they are and who they love.

“From our own research into hate crime, we know that four in five anti-LGBT hate crimes go unreported, with younger people particularly reluctant to go to the police. We also know that two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last 12 months.

“It’s vital that we improve confidence in the way the criminal justice system deals with anti-LGBT crime. A crucial part of this is making sure perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice. We also need consistent sentencing so that LGBT people know that they will be fully supported. The Law Commission in England and Wales announced a review of sentencing last year and this is an important first step to ensure crimes based on someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or disability are treated equally to those based on race and faith.

“There’s a role for all of us in reducing anti-LGBT hate crimes and building a society where everyone is safe. We need people who believe in equality to take action and to come out for LGBT people by supporting LGBT charities, communities and your LGBT friends and family.”

Chief Inspector Jayne Forrest, Head of Doncaster Neighbourhoods, said:

“Whilst the figures appear to show a sharp increase in hate crime incidents in Doncaster, I would like to make the following observations:

“Caution should always be shown when percentage increases are applied to small numbers as these can often be misleading and show a disproportionate increase.

“Due to the hard work and commitment to this important area of work, South Yorkshire Police and their partners have implemented some fundamental changes in Doncaster over the last two years. This includes the Hate Hurts campaign, plus third party reporting centres for victims that might feel uncomfortable attending a police station. I believe that these changes have resulted in an increase in reporting rather than an increase in crimes, and that this should be celebrated.

“A victim of a hate crime in Doncaster receives an enhanced victim service, which reflects how importantly we view these crimes and this is supported by the data, which shows that in the last four months 100% of victims were 100% satisfied with their overall experience with the police.

“When a hate crime is reported a rigorous investigation plan is agreed with the victim to demonstrate to offenders that these appalling crimes simply will not be tolerated in Doncaster.

“South Yorkshire Police and Doncaster Pride have a close working relationship and are committed to a cohesive approach to all matters that affect our LGBT+ communities.”

Doncaster Pride Chair and Co-Chair of the UK Pride Organisers Network Jenny Dewsnap said:

“Doncaster Pride and South Yorkshire Police are united in our aim to encourage the public to report crimes so that justice and change can happen. I firmly believe that an increase in reporting rather than just an increase in the number of crimes committed is being overlooked here.

“Doncaster Pride has always had a close working relationship with South Yorkshire Police and I can confirm that they have increased their efforts in the last few years to work with us to reach into the community. The key is building trust so people can be confident reporting crimes, I believe this to be working.

“We will continue to look at ways to help the community and educate the wider community that hate crime is unacceptable in any form and yes, we remain united in our aim see crime rates reduce across the board. To achieve this, we must strive to address underlying trends and any increases with new and more robust actions.

“Unfortunately, we have no Pride event this year which doesn’t help with visibility and education, so we’re really ramping up our efforts to not only support in other ways but work to deliver a bigger and better event in 2021.”

If you are experiencing difficulties, please seek help. Call NHS 111, or click here for support from The Samaritans, or here for support from Stonewall.