Police apologise for three-year wait to deal with violent homophobic threats to gay man

A Dyfed-Powys police officer stands by a nearby road.

A Wales police force has apologised for its staggering three-year investigation into homophobic and violent threats made against a gay local councillor.

Dyfed-Powys police in Wales apologised to 25-year-old Joshua Beynon for failing to quickly investigate reports of criminal harassment made in 2020.

The force said the investigation was “below the standard that should be expected” after the case was dropped in March.

Beynon told the BBC that he was made to feel “like some criminal,” adding that he wouldn’t bother reporting a crime like this again.

“I was extremely distressed, it’s probably fair to say worried about my safety, you know, afraid to go out checking if doors were locked,” he continued.

“It completely destroyed my mental health.”

You may like to watch

Abusive rhetoric towards the gay politician began in 2020 after he requested that the Pembrokeshire County Hall be lit up in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protestors.

After then speaking in support of refugees, Beynon said he received a coordinated campaign of graphic homophobic and racist messages, some of which threatened sexual and physical violence.

“It was that kind of anxiety you have that, ‘are these social media comments or threats going to materialise into something physical one day?'”

He reluctantly decided to report the abuse to Dyfed-Powys police after similarly vile notes were pushed through his door.

After calling 999 in fear for his safety, it reportedly took four days for the police to arrive at his home.

He described the response by the attending officers as “extremely poor” and noted a hefty amount of miscommunication between himself and investigating officers.

Beynon had to repeatedly upload evidence after it was lost multiple times in an online system, meaning it hadn’t even been reported for review by investigating officers.

He also found that, after being called to issue a statement on the threats, officers recording him on body cameras told him not to overreact when they said there were not going to pursue charges.

Dyfed-Powys Police hate crime lead Dyfed Bolton said that the complaint about its handling of the investigation was received and that a response had been given.

He added: “The response acknowledged that the service provided on this occasion had fallen below the standard that should be expected.

“Dyfed-Powys Police apologised for the lapse in service and a full and thorough investigation of the reported hate crime followed.”

LGBTQ+ nonprofit GALOP said that Beynon’s experience with the police is all but too common for LGBTQ+ people.

Deputy chief executive Amy Roch said that reports by LGBTQ+ people are “minimised or treated as something that’s just not that serious or important, that it hasn’t been investigated properly.”

According to statistics collected by the BBC, hate crimes in Wales went up five-fold in the past 10 years, with at least 1,329 offences in 2021-22.