A hate crime is any criminal offence that is motivated by a prejudice or hate. This can include anything that focuses on the victim’s sexual orientation including homophobia. Gender hate crime is a crime against someone for their gender including resentment of transgender people, transexuals and transvestites.
Any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender is a hate crime. These crimes can be committed against anyone by someone who thinks you may be lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans.
Hate crime can take many forms from a continuous campaign of subtle language by a colleague or neighbour to an isolated incident of suggestive harassment from a stranger.
Lighthouse is a team of staff from the police and victim support organisations, working together to guide, advise and support victims and witnesses. You can find out more about Lighthouse and the services they can provide at: www.lighthousevictimcare.org
The Lighthouse team has recently dealt with a transgender hate crime in Bristol. One of the Victim Care Officer reports:
“We had a case where a transgender woman was being harassed by locals, with dog faeces being put through the letter box, things shouted at her in the street and in addition harassment from her ex-wife.
“The victim was struggling to deal with the harassment and when I made the initial contact from Lighthouse, she told me that she had been in hospital just the day before, following a suicide attempt. I got in touch with the local neighbourhood policing inspector as well as the victim’s housing association. The association arranged urgent security checks and other safeguarding measures, and the police assigned an officer experienced in LGBT issues, who then worked with the victim over the following months.
“I spoke to her regularly, appreciating the need for additional support and frequent welfare checks, and the officer did the same. This included home visits and building relationships with the victim’s carer and housing association. Face to face contact was essential whilst, at the same time, working with the housing association, writing and calling her on a regular basis were also important.
“There were further hate crime incidents, all of which were investigated by the police and victim care was provided. The victim was relocated to a different area of Bristol, and her carer moved in with her, as had been discussed previously as an option. The victim was very pleased about the move and was very clearly relieved. She is a very vulnerable individual and is sensitive to the attitudes of the general public to her appearance. As a result, she did not feel safe and mainly locked herself in at home. The move provided an opportunity to live her life more fully. “
The aim of the campaign is to help encourage victims and witnesses of hate incidents - whether it is verbal, physical or on social media - to report it to the police or other relevant organisations. Improved recording of these crimes will enable a better understanding and help identify and improve services for victims in communities where hate crimes are evident.
Anyone with information about a hate incident is asked to report it either by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency or in person at a police station. If you feel you can speak to us, we would prefer to speak to you on the phone or in person, however if contacting us online is the safest way for you to get in touch, you can complete our online reporting form. If you don’t want to contact us directly please use an independent agency or report it online at www.report-it.org.uk
LGBT Bristol is a forum for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender in the Bristol area. Established in 1994 they are a forum for circulating and publicising information about local LGBT support groups and services and events targeted at LGBT communities in Bristol and the surrounding area.
LGBT are one of four local organisations who formed the Bristol Hate Crime Service in 2013. The other local organisations being: SARI (Stand Against Racism and Inequality), Brandon Trust (working with people with disabilities) and Bristol Mind (for better health).
All of these organisations are there to help and can be contacted on 0800 171 2272. By calling SARI to report a hate crime a worker from one of the above organisations will be allocated to the case. They can help wherever you live in Avon and Somerset.