Merton Residents Urged To Report Homophobic Hate Crime

Figures show homophobic hate incidents on the increase

Incidents of homophobic hate crimes have increased by nearly 21% in Merton during 2016, according to new figures.

Local London Assembly Member, Leonie Cooper, is calling on the borough’s residents to report incidents of homophobic hate crime after police data showed it increased more in Merton than the average across London.

Statistics from the Metropolitan Police revealed a 20.8% year-on-year increase in Merton, while there was a 13% rise across the capital.

Ms Cooper is highlighting the issue as part of LGBT history month, which marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales.

Met data reveals that there were 29 homophobic hate crimes reported in Merton in 2016, compared to 24 in 2015. However, the government estimates that the actual number of crimes committed is often much higher than the number reported, with 1 in 5 in the LGBT+ community having experienced hate crime in the last three years.

Research reveals that the majority of hate crime victims do not report their experiences to the police. This is particularly true of homophobic crimes, with the country’s largest study of hate crime victimisation highlighting just 14% of LGBT+ individuals had reported their most recent experience of hate crime to the police.

In December, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced plans to launch an online hate crime hub and roll out Hate Crime Victims’ Advocates across London. Last month he also gave further detail of his plans to recruit a Victims’ Commissioner who will work with survivors to ensure their needs are reflected by the police and criminal services.

Merton and Wandsworth Labour Assembly Member, Leonie Cooper AM, said: “There is overwhelming evidence that hate crimes, particularly those committed against the LGBT+ community, are woefully under-reported. We need to turn that around.

“The more information the police have, the better chance we stand of ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice. Many people aren’t aware that a hate crime does not have to be committed against them directly in order for it to be reported – they can tell the police what they witnessed too.

“We have come a long way since discriminatory anti-gay laws were on our statute books, but hate crimes remain a blight on our city. I will continue to call on the Mayor to do everything he can to stamp out this despicable behaviour.”

February 15, 2017