London Mayor Boris Johnson has sought assurances from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner that everything is being done to tackle the problem of homophobic attacks in the capital.
The Mayor raised the matter with the Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson at yesterday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority.
The Commissioner assured the Mayor that the Met is taking the issue of homophobic crime seriously and he outlined measures that include third party reporting and increased sanctioned detection rates, as well as raising staff and community awareness and efforts to encourage the community to report attacks.
The number of homophobic hate crimes in London has risen by 18 per cent since last year, Scotland Yard figures show.
According to the statistics, 1,192 homophobic offences were recorded in the 12 months to September this year. Compared with 1,008 in the same period last year, this is a rise of 18.3 per cent.
The Mayor said today: “Londoners have become increasingly concerned about the number of homophobic attacks and the recent death of Ian Baynham was particularly appalling. My thoughts are with his friends, family and everyone affected by hate crime.
“London is known around the world as a place where people can be who they want to be. Homophobic attacks and other hate crimes must not be tolerated and we are committed to working with the Metropolitan Police Service to ensure that they are dealt with rigour.
“We must keep hate crime high on the agenda across London if we are to ensure perpetrators are held to account and reduce the risk of it happening in the first place. So I would urge anyone affected by, or witnessing a hate crime, to report it.”
Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said: “My sincere condolences to Ian Baynham’s family and friends. This was a dreadful crime and we are, and will continue to do everything we can to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”
“As I said publicly yesterday, we have seen an increase in reported homophobic crime and that clearly is of concern to us. This is attributed in some ways as a result of increased confidence by the community, however there is still significant under reporting of this crime, which we wish to address.”
Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes, who is attending the vigil, commented:
“This was a terrible crime and a tragedy for all who knew and loved Ian Baynham. London’s strength and dynamism lie in its many communities and every person should have the right to live their lives as they choose, free from persecution and abuse. It is a dark episode, but as Londoners we must seize this opportunity to raise awareness about the tragic consequences of homophobia and to educate our young people.”
Up to 10,000 people are expected to take part in a silent candle-lit vigil against Hate-Crime this evening in Trafalgar Square.
The event, which is being organised by volunteers, is seeking donations to assist with running costs. If you would like to donate via paypal visit http://tr.im/172430 or alternatively you can pay directly to the 17-24-30 groups donation account, sort code 40-03-22, account number 41446843.