Reported hate crimes against LGBT+ people in the West Midlands rose by more than half in the last year, outstripping the rest of England and Wales.
There were 591 reported incidents of homophobic crimes in 2018 compared to 386 in 2017. In January and February 2019 some 86 crimes were committed—a 26 percent increase on the first two months of the previous year.
The rise is significantly higher than that experienced by England and Wales as a whole, which saw a 27 per cent spike in hate crimes where sexual orientation was a factor in 2017/18. Crimes against transgender people, which are recorded separately, rose by 32 percent.
PC Gary Stack, force lead on sexual orientation hate crime for West Midland Police, put the disparity down to “a closing of the gap between what is happening and what is being reported.”
He told PinkNews: “We’ve done a lot of work over the past few years to encourage people to report crimes, even if they think it’s low level, and we have seen an increase in reports of those lower level public order type offences.
“We have seen an increase in reports of lower level offences.”
PC Gary Stack, West Midlands Police
“We absolutely want people to continue to make those reports—even if there’s no known offender or the victim thinks we can’t do anything with it, because it feeds in to our intel picture and helps us to understand what really is going on out there.”
Stonewall has previously suggested that four in five homophobic hate crimes go unreported, with research finding that younger LGBT+ people are especially reluctant to go to the police.
February 2019 one of worst on record for anti-LGBT+ crime
The data was revealed by a freedom of information request by the Liberal Democrats. The figures for the most recent month available—February 2019—was the second worst out of all 26 months in the report.
Natasha Allmark, a campaigner for the Lib Dems, told the Birmingham Mail: “Seeing figures that homophobic crime is at its highest level since 2017 is horrific.
“I worry that with the awful row about Parkfield Community School it could fan the flames of prejudice against the LGBT+ community.”
The West Midlands has played host to a national debate on LGBT-inclusive education following protests at Parkfield.
The primary school had been teaching a programme called No Outsiders, which sought to teach children about inclusion and diversity.
After the protests, Parkfield announced that the lessons were to be suspended indefinitely.