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Police association calls for homophobic recording of Stuart Walker murder

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  1. On this basis any crime against a gay person should be recorded as potentially homophobic, which is a daft proposition. There needs to be a better way of deciding of something is potentially a hate crime – I have no idea how this might be achieved though.

    1. STOP HATE 1 Nov 2011, 7:09pm

      It’s not a proposition by the GPA. They are re-iterating the conditions by which hate crime recording takes place. What they are suggesting is that the conditions in this case have not been implemented by the Force. An example quoted by the ACPOS Hate Crime Manual is “A same sex couple openly displaying affection in a shop, being approached by the shop owner and then being asked to leave because of this. The incident has been perceived by the couple to be motivated by homophobia, however no criminal offence has been committed”. This would be recorded as a hate incident. There is no requirement on the police to ‘determine’ a hate element. Agree, or disagree, that is the state of play. In the case of Stuart Walker, people were interviewed by the press who stated that they felt Stuart was victimised because of his sexual orientation. That was their perception and the guidelines state that “any person” who perceives a crime to be a hate crime, then it is.

      1. Absolutely, STOP HATE

        Clearly, an incident which is recorded as a hate incident may be investigated fully and alternative motivations identified and different charges be brought, but it is remiss not to record and investigate thoroughly where an incident is perceived as a hate inspired incident. I would contend its potential neglect of duty. The decision to approach the publicity of this case in the manner Strathclyde Police have is disappointing and lets down those who have been striving (both within Strathclyde Police and elsewhere) for hate crimes to be treated seriously and appropriately.

        1. concerned resident of E3 2 Nov 2011, 6:35am

          absolutely. I also have very grave concerns that it was a police spokesperson who released the information that Walker had been under investigation for child abuse without pointing out that the accusation had been spurious and malicious. The same force failed to link homophobia to the brutal slaying of Jack Frew by Craig Roy which is presently being tried at Glasgow High Court. Something stinks about all this IMHO.

          1. STOP HATE 3 Nov 2011, 6:37pm

            Exactly, it appears a flaw in the system. No-one is suggesting that every victim from a minority group are ‘automatically’ categorised under ‘hate crime’, what the GPA and others are highlighting is that some crimes, especially murders, have a profound impact on some groups, part of the re-assurance process is the ‘acknowledgement’ of that and the reasoning that perhaps ‘hate’ played a part. It doesn’t exclude any other motive but it does provide re-assurance that the Force are serious about hate crime, even if they ultimately prove no hate element.

  2. George,

    This does not mean that every crime should be recorded as homophobic

    Its about genuine perception. Its clear that some crimes are not motivated by anyones sexuality.

    For example, if I had a burglary in my apartment, unless there was definitie evidence that it was homophobically motivated (eg bigoted graffiti on the walls) then I would presume it was not motivated due to my gender …

    If however, I was assaulted as leaving a gay bar, I would be concerned that the crime may be homophobically motivated …

    I suggest you read ACPOS guidance which is perfectly clear, and this crime should have been investigated as potentially homophobic and recorded as such. Whether there was evidence to charge with hate inspired aggravation of the offences is an entirely different matter.

    The crime recorded and the crime actually charged to court are often different.

    The GPA are spot on in their interpretation of the law in this regard and Strathclyde Police are disappointingly …

    1. … short sighted on this issue. Their failure to address this concern is a blight on their ability to recognise the real concerns of some LGBT people in the community.

    2. STOP HATE 1 Nov 2011, 7:17pm

      I agree Stu, when you read the comments made by the Chief Constable in The Herald report, he is clearly referring to the criminal investigation. He is perfectly correct on that account. However what he has not taken into consideration are the conditions under which his Force should have treated this as a hate incident as per the recommendations following the Stephen Lawrence enquiry and subsequent ACPOS guidelines. There is perhaps a need to educate police hierarchy in order to differentiate between the two. Maybe they need to listen more to their own GPA members?

      1. Absolutely.

        Strathclyde Police could have made it so much better if they had held their hands up and admitted a “communication error” in a written media briefing to clarify the point of recorded hate crime and actual crime charged / determined being potentially different.

        It is clear to me that there is still a long way to go before we get to a point where hate crime is treated with the seriousness that it should be by all police officers.

    3. Suppose that you were burgled and that neither you nor the police thought that it was a homophobic crime. Suppose, however, someone in your neighbourhood, for no particular reason, thought that it was a homophobic crime. The police should according to the guidelines record it as homophobic because someone thinks it is even if they and the victim disagree. I agree with George, the guidelines are daft.

      1. @Fred

        If I was burgled, (as I have said, unless there were very good reasons I would not suspect it as homophobic – and I suspect the police would hold similar views).

        If someone else found it homophobic, they would need to contact the police and inform them of their concerns.

        Its about having a reasonable suspicion or perception – the other person would have to be able to give a reason why they perceived it – they may indeed be aware of something, that I the victim am not, eg another person making homophobic comments about me – and that they were going to make me suffer – that might be legitimate, depending on who the other person was to suspect homophobia as a potential motive. If the neighbour is unable to give any semblence of reason as to why they perceive the burglary as homophobic then of course it should not be recorded as such.

        Police officers are not expected to ignore their inate common sense when interpreting manuals of guidance, but they are expected to follow …

        1. … guidance and leads.

          In the case of Mr Walker, there was clear reason to consider this matter as potentially homophobic. The evidence which has lead to charge may or may not support homophobia as the motive. Nonetheless, at the outset of the investigation it was a possible and perceived motive. The crime should have been recorded as such and fully investigated.

          Clearly, it appears given the male charged, that Strathclyde Police undertook an expeditious and successful investigation. That is in no doubt. How, they prioritised the various lines of inquiry could have in this (or in future potentially homophobic critical incidents) result in failing to secure evidence due to alienation of certain sectors of the community or failure to act in a timely manner to examine certain leads.

          1. @Stu

            I was not aware the police were empowered so simply say someone is wrong and a crime is not ‘potentially homophobic’.

          2. @Fred

            Two issues:

            Anyone, in any case, suggesting that any crime might be hate inspired would have to justify their perception – if the perception can be justified then ACPO and ACPOS guidance is that the crime should be recorded as hate related and investigated as such.

            The crime recorded (not just in hate crimes) is often not the crime charged. So a crime recorded as hate inspired due to racism, may end up being charged without the racial aggravation due to evidence obtained. Equally an assault may be recorded as s18 of Offences against the person (GBH with intent) but charged as s20 of Offences against the person (GBH) due to the evidence not being sufficient for charge in terms of proving intent. The recorded crime would remain the same, the charged crime is what can be proven. Purely because one crime can be proven does not mean a diffferent crime was not committed.

  3. Violets49 1 Nov 2011, 4:16pm

    The Strathclyde Police are generally very good in regards to hate crime and communications with the LGBT community! (At least in Glasgow!) It must be said that there are some odd things about this case! not least the revelation that Mr Walker had been the subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal! I would think that any act of violence against a gay or T person should be regarded as a hate crinme until proven otherwise!

    1. @Violets49

      I must admit I was particularly disappointed at Strathclyde Police’s response to this crime, given that they have a reasonably good reputation for handling LGBT and other equality issues.

      I do agree that there are elements of this case which are unusual, but nonetheless given it was a sickeningly violent murder on a gay man, then it should be treated investigatively as a hate crime until and unless proved otherwise.

      I believe the fiscal has confirmed that the allegations made against Mr Walker were regarded as unfounded and without basis in fact.

      I do hope the GPA, Stonewall Scotland and other partner organisations will seek to challenge Strathclyde police about their (apparent) poor handling of this aspect of this investigation.

      I note, and share the GPA congratulations for a rapid result to this (apparently) complex investigation.

      There are some learning points for Strathclyde Police in this matter and I hope they will learn …

    2. STOP HATE 1 Nov 2011, 7:29pm

      Stu is right in that Strathclyde Police shouldn’t rely upon either reputation or track record as a defence. They have a very good track record in terms of solving serious crime, the quick arrest in this case shows they certainly know what they are doing, and that has been acknowledged, rightly, by the GPA. What the GPA have highlighted is a potential flaw in the process whereby the accused may not be prosecuted for a hate murder because they failed to treat it as such. It is vital that in order to prosecute hate crimes, they are investigated as such, otherwise, as the GPA have pointed out, they could potentially ‘miss’ evidence that could support a hate element.

  4. According to this BBC web page the alleged murderer was also charged with theft. That is a very interesting development because it appears to add credence, rightly or wrongly, to a suggestion that the killing was not a hate crime. It surely wasn’t necessary to add the theft charge – so the reason for doing so could be suspect.

    1. @dave

      Nothing to say someone stealing something from someone could not also be motivated by homophobia.

      This wasnt a simple robbery gone wrong. A robber does not set a dying man on fire!

      1. Wasn’t there evidence of sexual assault also that definitely does not sound like a robbery.

    2. STOP HATE 1 Nov 2011, 7:37pm

      Murder and Theft. So you kill someone then take their jacket (or whatever else they ‘stole’). That doesn’t detract from the fact that someone was killed. The murder is by far the most serious of the two.

  5. Surely possible homophobic motivation must always be noted at the outset in such cases, even if no evidence later emerges to sustain the assumption. Not highlighting the possibility at all will always carry the danger that relevant evidence will be overlooked or not correctly interpreted.
    As a matter of professional discipline surely a number of different but plausible provenances for the crime should be noted at the start, and gradually set aside (but not entirely) as the investigation proceeds, and only in the light of the evidence. All human beings are vulnerable to ‘confirmation bias’ – we tend to form assumptions as to the facts and give too much weight to observations which confirm them and disregard others which don’t. The Police are as affected by this as anyone.

    1. Absolutely, Riondo

      If there are circumstances in a particular crime that suggest to someone, be they the victim, a witness, a police offficer, whoever … that the crime is motivated by hate, then that should inform the investigation from the moment that such a potential motivation is identified.

      Clearly, as the investigation develops it is feasible that evidence will be discovered which demonstrates that the crime was motivated by entirely different reasons. It should be reasons that can be evidenced that should be used to charge a person to court.

      Nonetheless, an investigation should consider all possible motives. It should also be handled in such a manner that sensitively identifies whether those motives suggested are reasonable or not.

      Strathclyde Police sounded rather blase about whether or not there was any homophobia involved in the Walker murder.

      Every serious category crime should have a policy book. This should endorse all possible motives that should be …

    2. … explored by the investigative team. There may be many (or few) identifiable potential motives at the start of an investigation. Other motives may only become apparent as further leads are discovered. It is not unreasonable (given the media information available) to suggest that the following motives may have been present at the commencement of the Walker murder investigation: homophobia, robbery, sexual … others will have become apparent later. Whilst of the initial three (and there may have been more) that were initially seen as motives, robbery can probably be downplayed (but not excluded) as robbers usually do not set fire to a dying man to cover tracks – such violence usually requires a more personal motive.

      Indeed the police are affected by confirmation bias, although they are trained to try not to. To ask of each fact What, Where, Why, Who, When, How – to establish further leads and investigative avenues and rule things in or out.

      1. Most informative, thank you. Are you still in the Force or not? I can’t remember. Where did you work and did you have some sort of specialism?

        1. @Riondo

          I am no longer in the police. I left after 7 years. I worked in the north east of England. My two specialisms were child abuse and sexual offences. I was part of a number of teams investigating serious category crimes involving children or a sexual element (up to and including attempted murder).

          1. You must have been very brave, especially regarding child abuse. An ex-social worker I know worked in child protection and admitted to me that it had not left her with a very positive view of the human race.

          2. @Riondo

            I must admit I have a stronger level of cynicism than I used to have. It also makes me appreciate when I see positive expressions of humanity. It also gave me a strong yearning for social justice. Perhaps, explains why I am sometimes a tad argumentative, and my desire for fairness, honesty and justice.

          3. STOP HATE 3 Nov 2011, 6:51pm

            I have a lot of confidence in the police, like Stu, when it comes to solving serious crimes like murder. Most Forces have a very good track record. My concern is whether or not this particular crime will be a murder or a homophobic murder. OK some people might argue that murder is murder regardless. The whole point, though, about hate crime, is that when any crime is wholly or partially motivated by hate, that in itself should prompt action, hence why we have legislation to provide Judges with the powers to ‘aggravate’ on the basis of hatred. We cannot tolerate homophobia especially if that contributes to someone being killed. What Strathclyde Police need to accept is that principle otherwise this will be murder and not a hate murder because they failed to gather the necessary evidence to prove it as a hate crime. That is the worry.

          4. @STOP HATE

            I entirely agree.

            I have written to the CC of Strathclyde Police today to voice my concerns. I am aware that he will probably be unable to comment significantly due to subjudice issues, but nonetheless – the more the concern is raised with the police that they are being sloppy in recording homophobic or any form of hate crime, the more they may reflect on it and take notice.

  6. The Gay Police Association, again another segragation, which says that homosexuals are not doing their part towards their calling for equaity, if your going to seperate yourselfs into seperate Associations then you wont get equality, you should intergreate.

    1. Respectfully it does not work that way! if you really want transparency in policing then you have to have outside or independent
      reviews or judgements. When police investigate themselves internally or comment favorable outcomes they are seen to be biased in their own favor!. If they rarely comment on conduct or an investigation in a negative way they are viewed with suspicion and distrust. More and more policing performance is monitored or assessed through independent bodies or commissions to evaluate .performance, conduct or ethics. When the GPA members comment independently it can beneficially aid “equality” where prejudice may otherwise prevail.

      1. JackAlison 2 Nov 2011, 7:31am

        In most cases of homophobic hate crime/murder the victim’s body, post mortem is usually set upon with gratuitous violence. as if the killing and method weren’t enough.Dismembering, burning and general disfigurement all point to not only perceptions but past factual recorded incidences of horrific injuries metted out to those who are perceived to be gay. This has been proven in nearly every country of the world, hatred knows no cultural or political bounderies. The most nasty ones I recall recently were the murders commited in South Africa with ‘conversion rape’ followed by murder of lesbians.
        The police need to realise this involves the entire gay community since its handling of this case will be watched by the entire community. Will it be the gay panic defence again or ‘murder lite.’ I feel so sad for this poor guy and that he died alone.

    2. “if your going to seperate yourselfs into seperate Associations then you wont get equality, you should intergreate.”

      Really?

      Should we disband agencies that work to better the lives of disabled people? What about political parties?

      You confuse the meaning of the word integrate with assimilate. A common mistake by those who think everyone should be like them. You should probably think out your comments before you write them.

      1. Well said, Will.
        Neal I think also makes the assumption that you can somehow magically arrive at social and legal equality without visible and vocal organisation and mutual support, and that you don’t need to be around people who share your experiences and values. ‘Birds of a feather’ somehow doesn’t legitimately apply to us. The attitude also stupidly implies that in practice we don’t spend most of our time dealing with the rest of the world.

      2. “if your going to seperate yourselfs into seperate Associations then you wont get equality, you should intergreate.”

        When we live a world of increasing complexity, specialist knowledge and associations are needed, not the reverse.

      3. I am sure many people who are involved in organisations which seek equality would rather that there was not a need for such organisations.

        Maybe, in time, there will be no need for a Gay Police Association, Black Police Association, British Association for Women in Policing etc etc or Stonewall, Hope not Hate etc etc

        In the meantime, whilst there is still significant prejudice and discrimination and those in minority groups continuee to be unfairly treated, bullied, harmed or patronised, these organisations are a stepping stone to a fairer, more representative and honest society. I wish them well.

  7. guy was a jobbie stabber anywayz so no real loss anywayz? lol tb fags

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