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Homophobic hate crime charges fall as reports soar

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The number of homophobic hate crimes reported to police have more than doubled in the past five years – yet only 8% result in prosecutions, figures show.

Reports of homophobic abuse recorded by UK police forces soared from 5,807 in 2014-15 to 13,530 in 2018-19, according to the data. But the number of prosecutions dropped from 1,157 to 1,058 over the same period – from 20% of all reports to 8%.

The figures were obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live Investigations under freedom of information laws. Full responses to the request were received from 38 of the UK’s 46 forces, with partial data from Police Scotland not included in the analysis.

Lee Broadstock, the secretary of the national LGBT police network, told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday: “We have seen an increase in confidence in victims to report it to us and I think that’s where that increase has come from.

“We have improved confidence of people to report, but they are reporting some of the lower-level incidents, some of the shouting in the streets, a lot of the online hate is being reported to us.

“Some things are proving a lot more difficult for us to take forward, especially with online hate, such as on Twitter … It’s very difficult to get that user account from Twitter because it’s based in the US so it’s very difficult for us to prosecute.”

The figures show reports to West Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire police have increased more than fivefold in the past five years, from 172 to 961 and 73 to 375 respectively.

But the proportion that resulted in a charge or summons fell from 19% to 4% in West Yorkshire, and from 10% to 3% in South Yorkshire over the period.

The Metropolitan police, Britain’s largest force, said reports rose from 1,561 in 2014-15 to 2,315 in 2018-19, as the number of cases leading to a charge or summons fell from 246 to 165 over the five years.

Reports to Greater Manchester police increased from 423 to 1,159 as the number resulting in prosecutions fell from 82 to 50.

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