14 – 21 October is National Hate Crime Awareness Week (NHCAW). On Thursday we raised a unique flag to celebrate the week, the first flag raised of its kind in England.
In the UK, hate crime is defined as any crime that is caused by prejudice towards a person “on the basis of “Race; Religion; Disability; Sexual orientation; and/or Transgender identity.” During this years National Hate Crime Awareness Week, I want to draw particular attention to hate crime directed towards LGBTQ+ and transgender people.
New statistics released by the Home Office on 5 October 2023 show that hate crimes towards lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in England and Wales continues to rise, particularly towards trans people. The trans community have seen hate related crimes rise by 186 per cent in the last five years and 11 per cent over just one year. Hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are up by 112 per cent in the last five years, despite this year’s slight decrease of six per cent.
In the 2021 Census, Bristol ranked seventh nationally for having the largest proportion of the population aged 16 years and over whose gender identity was different from their sex registered at birth. We also ranked tenth out of 331 Local Authorities for the number of people who identify as gay and lesbian. Bristol has a well known gay culture and our annual Pride event which celebrates the entire LGBTQ+ community is one of the best in the country. Despite this, the community in Bristol continues to experience prejudice, hatred and sometimes physical attacks.
In the same statistics report from the Home Office, it showed that Avon and Somerset Constabulary recorded 119 hate crimes against transgender people in the year to March – a rise from 102 in 2021-22.
We have seen evidence of this in Bristol.
This year’s Bristol Pride billboard was set alight less than 24 hours after it was put up and pellets were fired at a Trans Pride Picnic event. A few weeks back, Avon and Somerset Police appealed to the public to help them identify someone who had verbally abused a man in his 20s with homophobic and transphobic language, before punching him in the face at Turtle Bay on Cheltenham Road.
There is no denying that people can sometimes be targeted for simply living their lives as their true selves. There is no room for this in our city. Nor is there any room for the antisemitism and Islamophobia that has been seen in other parts of the country, and beyond, following recent events in the Middle East.
Reporting hate crime
Incidents motivated by hate have a devastating impact on the victim, their family and communities.
You should report all hate crime, whether you’re the victim, a witness or making the report for someone else. Some of Bristol’s communities are at risk of under-reporting hate crime for a number of reasons including language and cultural barriers. Avon and Somerset Police have worked with partner agencies and communities to create informational videos in Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic and Somali.
Call 999 if a crime is happening now or you’re in immediate danger.
If you can’t use a voice phone, you can register with the police text service – text REGISTER to 999. You will get a text which tells you what to do next. Do this when it is safe so you can text when you are in danger.
If you need urgent police help through the 999 service but cannot speak call 999, you will be connected to a phone operator who will ask which service you need.
On a mobile
- if you can’t speak but the operator hears something suspicious, they’ll connect you to a police call handler
- if you can make some noise, whispering for example, the operator will connect you to the police
- if you can’t speak, and the operator can’t tell what service you need, they’ll transfer you to the Silent Solution system. This runs a 20 second automated message, and that will ask you to press 55, to be put through to the police
On a landline phone
- if you cannot speak and the operator can hear only background noise, they’ll connect your call to the police