PSNI warns over falling figures for homophobic crime

A senior police officer has said she hopes the falling level of homophobic hate crime recorded in Northern Ireland does not represent loss of confidence in policing.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Emma Bond acknowledged concerns about under-reporting during a special policing event at Ulster University as part of the Pride festival in Belfast.

She said the crime was concentrated within urban areas with night time economies.

Most incidents involved violence, assaults or other offences against the person.

Homophobia represents around a 10th of all hate crime.

Out of more than 1,000 hate crimes reported last year, 163 involved homophobia and another 17 surrounded trans-gender issues.

The senior officer added: “We are working really hard as a police service in partnership with other agencies from the statutory and voluntary sector trying to address issues around hate crime.

“We would hope that is having a degree of success.

“I do believe that we need to be doing more from the preventative point of view.

“We are dealing with and reacting to incidents being reported to us.”

She said there were concerns around reducing numbers of reports.

“What I would hope is that it is not an indication around loss of confidence in the police.”

She said crime trends fluctuated and levels of transphobic hate crime had increased over the last 12 months.

Last year a Green Party representative urged greater exposure of the problem after he was subjected to verbal abuse in a street in Belfast.

Malachai O’Hara from North Belfast was told he had dropped his “gay card” and threatened with violence from a passing vehicle.

Ms Bond urged those with concerns to report them to police.

Officers will be free to march at this Saturday’s Pride parade in Belfast.

Ms Bond added: “It is a opportunity to reinforce the message and show our commitment to having it investigated, being visible, doing outreach and engaging directly.”

She said none of the officers taking part were being paid for their time.

A couple of vehicles have been painted with Pride messaging and Ms Bond said that cost just over £500.

“It is public money but we feel that is an investment as part of supporting that visible presence, to show that hate crime is wrong.”

- Press Association

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