The Birdcage to get an i-kiosk

New initiative encourages victims to report homophobic crime


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The Home Office estimates that 90 per cent of homophobic crime goes unreported. On Wednesday 17th May, as part of International Day Against Homophobia, Hounslow’s Community Safety Partnership launched a new initiative designed to encourage more reporting of a common - but often unpunished - hate crime.

Between January 2005 and 2006, 1,359, homophobic crimes were reported to police in London; but many more incidents go unreported because gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals will not come forward.

Now, to encourage more reporting and gather a picture of how much homophobic crime is a problem in Hounslow, a specially-adapted i-kiosk has been installed at The Birdcage pub in Chiswick.

The i-kiosk will give people an opportunity to report homophobic crime in confidence and anonymity. If they want the offence reported to the police, they will have the option of leaving their details.

The system will be managed by the Gay Men’s Project, which is funded by Hounslow, Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham primary care trusts respectively.

While i-kiosks are a familiar sight in many high streets, it is the first time they have been used for this purpose anywhere in Britain.

Permjit Chadha is Senior Community Safety Officer for Hounslow Council. She said: ”Homophobic crime is seriously underreported and it is hoped that providing this resource will give people confidence to report offences against them. We also hope people will report any incidents - even if they do not want to pursue them - so we can build up a picture of the extent of this crime in Hounslow. We will use the evidence in order to provide better support mechanisms and services.”

Simon Mitchell, is lead Partnership officer for Homophobic crime. He said: “There are many reasons why people will not come forward to report homophobic crime. Most commonly, there is a fear it will not be treated sensitively, or their sexuality might be ‘outed’ to friends and family who were unaware. People who are subjected to jibes about their sexuality are also victims, and we hope anyone who has experienced bullying, assault or threatening behaviour towards them because of sexuality will come forward.”

Superintendent Simon Phipps, of Hounslow Police, said “Hounslow Police takes homophobic crime very seriously. No one should have to put up with being harassed or physically abused because of their sexuality. It is important that the police are informed of homophobic hate crime, even if it is reported anonymously.”

A recent study carried out in Hounslow has revealed local evidence supports home office findings about the lack of reporting homophobic crime.

The most typical perpetrator of a homophobic crime is white, male and aged between 16 and 20 and the majority of crimes happen between 3pm and midnight, according to the Home Office.
Hounslow’s Community Safety Partnership is made up of numerous public bodies, including Hounslow Council, Hounslow Primary Care Trust and the Metropolitan Police.

May 28, 2006