Cumbria Police is setting up a team of LGBT liaison officers, who will be in force from Friday to mark the start of LGBT History Month.

The service reported dealing with 36 homophobic hate crimes and three transgender hate crimes in 2012. However, they believe that many more go unreported.

The force says that the specially trained liason officers will encourage more people to report hate crimes, while also performing regular police duties.

Deputy Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said: “We know that homophobic and transgender hate crime is often vastly under-reported and we hope that lesbian and gay liaison officers will help us to address this.

“We don’t believe that there is a big issue with this kind of crime in Cumbria – however, these low numbers of reports suggest that victims may not be contacting us, which causes us concern.

“The most important thing is we don’t want victims to suffer in silence. We need them to come forward, confide in us and we will do everything possible to ensure offenders are prosecuted so they won’t be targeted again.”

She added: “We are hosting a LGBT web chat on February 7 to mark Gay History Month and encourage people from around the county to log on, ask questions or gain advice from the comfort of their homes.”

LGBT liaison officers have already been introduced in other parts of the UK.

Earlier this year, Stonewall commended a Chief Constable in Hampshire for his own work with LGBT liaison officers, granting him their “Champion of the Year” award.