Transphobic graffiti in UK town treated as hate crime by police

Police are treating transphobic graffiti sprayed in various locations in an Gateshead as a hate crime. 

Northumbria Police have received a number of reports about the defacements, which have been painted on a section of the High Level Bridge that connects Gateshead and Newcastle.

Alongside the transphobic messages left on the bridge, graffiti has also been spotted on several bus stops in High West Street and Durham Road, both in the Gateshead area. 

An image shared on X, previously known as Twitter, show the words: “U can’t change sex”, written on the bridge, with the reply “Just watch me, mate” penned underneath. 

A second picture shows graffiti which refers to “woke” as “fascists in disguise”. 

One local person wrote on social media: “It was a pretty good day until I walked over the High Level Bridge this evening and was sickened by relentless graffiti encouraging ‘woke’ people to jump.”

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Similar graffiti was previously cleared up by Gateshead Council’s cleaning teams, only for new offensive slogans to be left in their place.

The police are treating the incidents as linked and as a hate crime, and are appealing for people to come forward with information. 

“Hate crime of any kind is never acceptable and a thorough investigation is underway to find those responsible,” a spokesperson said. “We are working with our partners to address the issue and ensure any graffiti is quickly removed.

“If you have information which may assist officers, please contact us immediately.”

In a statement given to Chronicle Live, a Gateshead Council spokesperson said: “The diversity of our residents makes Gateshead. We want our residents to feel safe as they go about their day-to-day lives.

“Graffiti of this nature is unacceptable and we will make every effort to remove this within 24 hours of being notified. If residents witness individuals defacing public property or spot graffiti in a public spot, we’d encourage that they report this to us and the police.

“We support the police in their appeal for information and encourage residents to do the same.”

Hate crime figures continue to increase

The graffiti is part of a rising trend of hate crime figures across the UK

Recent Home Office data shows that to the year ending March 2022, sexual orientation hate crimes in England and Wales rose by 41 per cent, to 26,152 cases.

This marks the largest annual percentage increase since records began in 2012.

Transgender hate crime was also up in England and Wales, with an increase of 56 per cent to 4,355 incidents.

In Scotland, data from the devolved nation’s prosecution service, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, revealed that in 2022/23 there were 1,884 hate crime charges in relation to sexual orientation and 55 related to transgender identity. 

This is a huge increase on the previous decade where in 2013/14 there were just 887 hate crime incidents recorded under the sexual orientation category, and 25 under the transgender identity category. 

If you have any information relating to the graffiti in Tyneside you should use the Northumbria Police Tell Us Something page on the force’s website or call 101, quoting log number NP-20230831-0362.

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.

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