A rise in reported homophobic crime in Surrey has alarmed LGBT community activists – leading to the county’s police force defending its record.
From the period of 2011 to 2012, a total of 28 homophobic crimes were recorded in Surrey.
However, during 2012 to 2013, the number of homophobic crimes increased to 46.
Gino Meriano, the chairman of Gay Surrey, said he and his partner Mike have been the victims of assaults and intimidation.
“So 46 people in Surrey were the victims of hate crime? I can probably triple that – easily 150 for 2013 and that’s not including my own ones,” Mr Meriano said.
“I’ll be supportive of Surrey Police. As a whole they do a good job, but I think they’ve completely abandoned the gay community, as have the councils and the Crown Prosecution Service.”
A recent survey carried out by the Surrey charity Outline found that 84% of respondents felt their physical safety could be significantly at risk if they were to show any public display of affection with a same-sex partner.
A third said they had been the victim of a hate crime or hate incident.
PC Mike Patey, the diversity advisor for Surrey Police, said: “Overall, Surrey has seen a reduction in the total number of hate crimes reported to police.
“Race hate crimes have seen the largest reduction by 58 offences in 2012-13, compared to the year before.
“However, hate crime in relation to sexual orientation has seen an increase in reports with 18 more reported offences for the same period.
“Surrey Police has done a lot of work in this area over the past year alongside the charity Outline and has specially trained officers working with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities to support victims and witnesses.
“This may account for an increase in reporting and is a positive if we are giving people the confidence to come forward.
“We have also been working closely with partner agencies to encourage reporting of disability hate crime.
“It is well known that nationally all types of hate crime go under-reported and we would urge anyone who has been the victim of, or witness to, any such crime to report it to police or to a support agency which can pass it to us to investigate.
“Hate crime is taken seriously by the force and we will take action against offenders.”