A network of 90 liaison officers has been established by police in Scotland to help encourage reports of hate crime in the LGBT community.
The officers have been trained in conjunction with Equality Network, Scotland’s national LGBTI equality charity to help prevent hate crimes.
The move comes at the start of national Hate Crime Awareness week.
Offences based on disability, sexuality, race, religion and sexual orientation are often unreported and the police hope that the move will encourage an increase on reports.
Nearly two thirds of LGBTI people in Scotland say they have suffered a hate crime – but the vast majority did not report it to the police.
The unit wants to encourage reporting through a third party system by promoting charities and community groups. Officers have also worked with the charity I Am Me to provide further support for people with disabilities.
Chief Constable Phil Gormley said tackling intolerance and prejudice is an “absolute priority” for Police Scotland.
Equality Network director Tim Hopkins said: “We were happy to provide training on LGBTI hate crime issues to nearly 100 police officers across Scotland earlier this year and it’s great to see that Police Scotland have now set up a national network of liaison officers.”
Figures found by LGBT anti-violence charity, Galop, found that hate crimes against LGBT people increased 147% between July and September, compared to last year.
The research by Galop found that 4 in 5 LGBT people had experienced hate crime. A quarter had experienced violent hate crime, a third experienced online hate crime and a tenth experienced sexual violence as part of a hate crime.