Ken Livingstone has accused Mayor Boris Johnston and the Metropolitan Police of complacency when it comes to tackling homophobic crime in the capital.
Speaking to Gaydar Radio’s News Editor, Scott Roberts at an LGBT Labour event in Soho tonight, Labour’s London Mayoral candidate said the UK’s biggest police force needed to become “much more professional” when dealing with LGBT issues.
He went on to say the Met was relying on too many “volunteers” for LGBT operations with “no training” and also suffering from a “high turnover”.
In reference to his time as London Mayor, Livingstone said he initially found it difficult to persuade senior officers of the need to treat domestic violence as a priority.
He said: “We had a real problem pushing them on domestic violence.
“In the end [the Met] came round to treating it seriously, but still in many areas, and also in areas of rape, I don’t think it’s taken as seriously as it should be, and that’s also the case on gay hate crime”.
Latest figures from the Metropolitan Police show homophobic crime has increased by 95 per cent in the Borough of Greenwich, 68 per cent in Hackney, 58 per cent in Haringey and 20 per cent in Westminster.
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Across Greater London as a whole there has been a 10.5 per cent reduction.
According to Stonewall, 70 per cent of people who have suffered from gay hate crimes fail to report the incidents and a third do not think officers will treat them seriously.
Last November, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe told Gaydar Radio that he was not sure if higher figures were down to better reporting or increased homophobia.
He said the Met had a “growing reputation for being sensitive” on the issue and doing its best to support hate crime victims.
Livingstone also claims that police numbers in London have dropped by “two thousand” in the last 2 years and that he can reverse the cuts by clamping down on staff perks:
“I have indentified the money in [the Met’s] budget, which we’re going to switch around to pay for those extra police.
“At the moment police fly first class on internal domestic flights, dozens of senior police officers have chauffeur driven cars. All of that will have to go”.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office said: “The Mayor and the Deputy Mayor for Policing Kit Malthouse have made tackling homophobic hate crime a top priority. The Mayor wants LGBT people to feel confident enough to report such crimes and know they will be treated fairly and taken seriously.
“That is why he introduced designated LGBT liaison officers in each of the 32 boroughs to assist LGBT people living, working or visiting London – and why he has made it a major commitment of his mayoralty that robust action should be taken against perpetrators.”