Gay campaigners have joined with other local community groups to tackle domestic violence and hate crime in the London Borough of Hackney.

Galop, an LGBT community safety group, the East London Out Project, and Polari, an organisation which works for better services for the elderly gay community, have contributed to two policy documents on the issues.

The first of its kind in Hackney, these policy documents – Hackney Homes Domestic Violence and Hate Crime Policies and London Borough of Hackney’s Corporate Domestic Violence Policy vow to fight the crimes in the area.

In the last year there were 99 reported homophobic attacks in Hackney between October 2005 and October 2006.

Domestic violence and hate crime are significant crimes affecting a large number of residents, yet they remain largely unspoken of and hidden within many communities. Over the past twelve months, local police have been called to deal with over 2,000 incidents of domestic violence and over 400 cases of hate crime.

Opening the launch was Susmita Noonan, Hackney Homes’ Director of Housing Services, who highlighted the work being done to ensure that victims of domestic violence and hate crime are able to access the wide range of services available and that their needs are adequately addressed.

She said: “We are working very closely with a number of women’s groups as well as black and minority ethnic groups to make sure that we are reaching those who may be less visible. In addition, staff are undergoing continuous training so that they can identify and work with people who may have difficulty approaching our services”.

Also speaking at the launch was Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch who thanked all agencies involved and most especially Hackney residents who had contributed to formulating these policies. She highlighted the importance of raising the awareness of domestic violence saying: “1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will suffer from domestic violence”.

The afternoon provided an opportunity for those working with victims and witnesses of domestic violence and hate crime to share their experiences with one another and talk about best practice measures for raising awareness across the borough.

Everyone present at the launch welcomed the multi-agency approach being adopted in Hackney to stop domestic violence and hate crime, and also importantly, to break the cycle and reach out to those suffering in silence.