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Homophobic hate incidents double

HOMOPHOBIC hate crimes reported to police have more than doubled in the past five years — but the number that result in prosecutions has halved, an investigation reveals.

Reports of homophobic abuse that were recorded by forces rose from 5,807 in 2014/15 to 13,530 in 2018/19.

But prosecutions fell from 1,157 to 1,058 — from 20 per cent of reported incidents to eight per cent, according to figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live under Freedom of Information laws.

Lee Broadstock, secretary of the national LGBT police network, said he believed the increase was down to people feeling more confident to report hate crimes.

But he added that some incidents could be ‘very difficult’ to prosecute.

‘We have seen an increase in confidence in victims to report it to us and I think that’s where that increase has come from,’ he told BBC Breakfast.

‘But they are reporting some of the lower level incidents, some of the shouting in the streets — a lot of the online hate is being reported to us. Some things are proving a lot more difficult for us to take forward, especially with online hate, such as on Twitter. It’s very difficult to get that user account from Twitter because it’s based in the US so it’s very difficult for us to prosecute.’

The Met Police saw homophobic hate crime incidents rise from 1,561 in 2014/15 to 2,315 in 2018/19. Reports to Greater Manchester Police went from 423 to 1,159. Reports to West Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Police increased more than five-fold, from 172 to 961 and 73 to 375 respectively.