Benjamin Cohen, London

The head of policing in Barnet in North London, has called on the gay community to help him solve a spate of homophobic attacks.

Chief Superintendent Mark Ricketts addressed a gay group following a a series of attacks in Scratchwood open space, a popular cruising ground in the gay community.

He reassured those at the meeting that the police were seeking to make these areas safe, “It is not our intention to limit anyone’s enjoyment of the open spaces. As everywhere, we need the help of the public in keeping Barnet and London safe.”

On Saturday and Sunday, July 16 and 17, between 4pm and 6.30pm, two men in Scratchwood were attacked by gangs of youths believed to be all under 16.

Rob de Nazar, a member of Barnet Lesbian and Gays told the Barnet Times that the police chief’s efforts were welcome, “He came across as pleasant, relaxed, thoughtful and very much in tune with all the social communities of this borough. He has clearly changed the ethos of his command since he arrived those present at our meeting were able to talk to him easily and discussed many issues in outline.”

The Barnet Police have initiated an LGBT hotline on 020 8733 4002.