UK: Criminals feel empowered

More criminals are feeling “empowered” to commit homophobic violence and abuse in Newcastle, police have warned. Councillors heard on Thursday that a rise in hate crimes in the city could not be put down to increased confidence in reporting incidents to police.

It came after Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes  said he was afraid to hold hands with his husband in public Overview and scrutiny committee chair, Coun Anita Lower, told city community safety bosses: “If he feels like that, then what is the average LGBT person going to think about their safety in Newcastle?”

In a video recorded for Newcastle Pride last weekend, Coun Forbes said: “We are doing a lot but there is more that we need to do. A recent survey showed that more than half of LGBT people are afraid to walk down the street holding hands with their partner. And I am one of those. I don’t feel safe to do that, and that is partly because I grew up in an atmosphere of homophobia where admitting who you are is really difficult."

Supt Steve Barron, of Northumbria Police, told the meeting that the fact that 20,000 people marched in last weekend’s Pride parade was a sign of how tolerant Newcastle is. However, he also warned: “We have seen a rise in the number of hate crimes and obviously  homophobic violence would fall into that category. 

“The argument of better reporting and community confidence in reporting - personally, I think there is an element of that, but the feedback is that communities are seeing people become more empowered to behave in this criminal way." Read more via Chronicle Live