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CRIMES against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are under-reported and police hope the move makes it easier for them to come forward.
ABOUT 60 police officers are being given special training to help crack down on hate crime against members of the LGBTI community .
The Equality Network charity has teamed up with Police Scotland to deliver a training programme for officers around the country.
It is hoped they will go on to form a new network of liaison officers who can be contacted by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people who believe they have been a victim of a crime.
Experts hope the programme will increase public confidence in the police and encourage people to speak up about a form of crime which has typically been under-reported.
Scott Cuthbertson, of the Equality Network, said: “We know too many LGBTI people are the victims of hate crime , but we also know that many, for whatever reason, still do not report hate crimes. We want to change that.
“That’s why we are pleased to be working so closely with Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and other criminal justice agencies to provide training on LGBTI issues and to work together to remove the barriers to reporting a hate crime.”
The officers will also be expected to advise their colleagues across the force on LGBTI issues.
Meanwhile, the Equality Network will also provide training for staff at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service , and LGBT Youth Scotland will roll out an anti-bullying programme in schools.
The number of charges for sexual orientation aggravated crime has risen since hate crime legislation came into effect in Scotland in March 2010, to stand at 841 in 2014-15, the Equality Network said.
Police officers will be trained and will pass their knowledge on to other staff
While reporting of transphobic hate crime remains low at 21 charges that year, there is said to be evidence of significant under-reporting.
A recent report by the charity found almost half of LGBT respondents had experienced or witnessed an incident of prejudice or discrimination in the past month, rising to 79% within the past year and 97% within their lifetimes.
Superintendent Jim Baird said tackling hate crime is a priority for Police Scotland.
He said: “If anyone feels they have been the victim of, or witness to, a crime which is motivated by malice or ill will because of sexual orientation or gender identity they should report it to us directly, online or through a third party reporting site.”
Fergus McMillan, chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, added: “We are currently working with a range of partners, including Equality Network, to increase the reporting of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes and incidents and improve the support available to those targeted.”
The initiatives are part of the national LGBT hate crime partnership, which brings together 35 organisations from across the UK.
Article posted ~ 14 Mar 2016 ~ by Hilary Duncanson for The Daily Record
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