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No Scottish police officers have been trained to tackle LGBT hate crime in four years despite being a ‘priority’

Josh Milton February 23, 2020
An armed Scotland Police officer. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

An armed Scotland Police officer. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Despite rocketing rates of violence against LGBT+ people in Scotland, absolutely no Police Scotland officers have been sent to a training course to better tackle the upsurge of hate crime in around four years.

According to the BBC, the country’s top police officer in 2016 said that tackling hate crime is an “absolute priority” for the force.

Speaking at the start of Hate Crime Awareness Week at the time, Phil Gormley said he was determined to stamp out all hatred in Scotland. Soon later, 90 cops were trained to become LGBT+ liaison officers in a bid to improve the reporting of hate crimes.

Yet since then, the Daily Record reported Sunday, no further officers have been trained. Leaving just 0.5 per cent of all police in Scotland trained by the Equality Network to spot LGBT+ harassment, a figure dubbed “concerning” by lawmakers.

It comes after a beloved queer bar was daubed with vile homophobic vandalism earlier this month. Spray-painted slurs covered the doors of Polo Lounge, with words such we “poofs out” and “Josef Fritzl” greeting pedestrians as they crossed Wilson Street, Glasgow.

Stalling of LGBT+ hate crime training is ‘concerning’, says lawmaker.

Police Scotland announced a partnership with the Equality Network in 2016 and said officers would receive specialist training courses from the LGBT+ charity.

The aim of the initiative was to tamper down the rates of abuse as well as encourage more victims to report incidents of hate crime to law enforcement.

(Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Scottish Greens justice spokesperson John Finnie said that was “concerning”.

“In light of the continued rise in homophobic and transphobic crimes,” he said, “I’d urge the Chief Constable to ensure key officers receive this important training as a matter of urgency.”

Police and charity spokespeople have confirmed the training is still in place. 

Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, told the paper: “We still offer a range of training on LGBTI issues to public, voluntary and private sector bodies.”

Chief inspector Coleen Wylie of Police Scotland’s safer communities team said: “Police Scotland is fully committed to tackling all forms of hate crime and we continue to train officers and staff to raise awareness about this.

“We also run regular ­campaigns and work with ­partners to increase public knowledge of hate crime, to raise awareness of reporting methods and to ­influence offender behaviour.

“We believe that hate crime continues to be under-reported and we urge anyone who has been a victim of or witness to such an incident to contact us or third party reporting organisations, details of which can be found on the Police Scotland website.”

More: Hate crime, Scotland

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