Brexit and social media behind rise in anti-LGBT hate crime, police chief claims

Protestors hold placards as they look on outside the venue for talks between the British Prime Minister and EU Commission president in Luxembourg. (FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/AFP/Getty Images)

Brexit and social media have contributed to the recent surge in hate crimes, including those against LGBT+ people, the West Yorkshire police and crime commissioner has said.

Mark Burns-Williamson said “divisions” in society were fuelling anti-LGBT+ hate crimes, in response to figures released by the BBC last week which showed that prosecutions had fallen over the past five years, despite reports of such crimes doubling.

Both West and South Yorkshire Police have seen reports of homophobic hate crime increase five-fold since 2014/15, to 961 and 375 respectively.

However, the percentage of crimes resulting in prosecution fell over the same time, from 19 percent to 4 percent in West Yorkshire, and from 10 percent to 3 percent in South Yorkshire.

According to Yorkshire Evening Post, Burns-Williamson said: “There is a concern there regarding the sort of environment we’re living in at the moment.

“The political environment, let’s be honest, doesn’t help, in terms of Brexit and the divisions that have been created.

“Social media plays into a lot of this as well.”

A prisoner's hands in handcuffs

Fewer people are being prosecuted for homophobic hate crimes. (Getty)

However, he insisted that the drop in prosecutions does not mean that police strategy for tackling hate crime is not working.

He added: “I would accept that the police have issues around investigative capacity and evidence gathering.

“But it’s something that doesn’t always have to end with criminal justice. There are a lot of other outcomes.

“A lot of victims don’t necessarily want perpetrators to be brought before the courts. They may prefer for them to be spoken to and told how their behaviour is making them feel.

“It’s a national issue and we need to understand more to get beneath that data.”

This year, data has also shown that hate crimes against LGBT+ people have more than doubled in the whole of England and Wales, and that transphobic hate crimes have risen by 81 percent in the UK.