Labour MP Diane Abbott: Mayor of London must act over rising homophobic crime

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Labour’s Diane Abbott is calling on Mayor of London Boris Johnson to take action following a 5.6% increase in homophobic crime across the capital.

In a statement to PinkNews, the Hackney MP said: “It is disgusting to see that one of the most diverse and progressive cities in the world is still being plagued by a small group of people who are capable of crimes motivated by mindless hatred.

“I suspect we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg as the majority of crimes against the LGBT community still go unreported, because the victims are too afraid to tell the police. This is something that the Mayor of London and his deputy for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, must take very seriously and I call on them to take steps to ensure that we do not see this figure continue to rise in the next 12 months.

“However, our greatest tool in building a society free of this kind of intolerance is education, and in light of this resurgence it is clear that the government must look harder at ensuring that homosexuality is better understood so that we can finally eliminate this kind of violence from our streets.”

Latest figures from the Metropolitan Police Service show in the 12 months to March this year, 1,167 homophobic crimes were reported to the force – that’s a rise of 62 incidents compared to the preceding 12-month period.

From March 2012 to March 2013 homophobic crime across London dropped by 12.7%, with 161 fewer offences reported.

In a statement to PinkNews, the Metropolitan Police Service said: “The MPS believes these increases are down to a range of factors, including a growing willingness of victims to report hate crime; an improved awareness of MPS staff to identify these offences; the support provided by more than 500 specialist hate crime investigators working in our 32 dedicated hate crime Community Safety Units (CSUs); and work with the partners to support victims.”

Earlier this month, Home Office minister Norman Baker said the UK Government was making “progress” in tackling hate crime.

Home Secretary Theresa May said in March that she feared too many people are still frightened to report homophobic crime.

Figures released in December last year by the Home Office showed there had been a fall in the number of homophobic crimes recorded in England and Wales – however reports of transphobic crime had risen.