What will the Police do?

If you call the police, someone will come out and see you and it will be fully investigated, right?

Not all the time. The police will do everything they can to make sure that you feel safe and protected.  But what they are doing isn’t always obvious.

When you report a hate crime or incident, the police may not seem to respond to it immediately.  But what they will do is use it to build up a picture of where homophobia is happening, what form this is taking and what kind of person is committing it.

This feeds into their intelligence systems, so every day when police officers and PCSO’s are briefed about what is happening in their local area and what they should be on the look out for, certain issues can be flagged up and responded to.

The more you report about the homophobia you experience and see, the more information the police will have to identify and respond to it in the long term.

We all want an immediate response - to know that we are being listened to - and when we don’t get this, we sometimes think “what’s the point?”

The point is this:  every time you report homophobia, you are telling the police that it is a problem that they need to be aware of and respond to every day.

Regular homophobic abuse

Report each incident as it occurs and make sure that the police link your latest report with all previous reports.  Have documents relating to the previous incidents to hand when you call, so that crime numbers and investigating officers’ details can be quoted.

If you are unhappy

Raise your concerns with a senior officer or complaints officer.  Most police forces include relevant email addresses and/or telephone numbers on their website.  Consider involving your local councillor, MP, LGB&T group, your workplace LGB&T network or trade union, or alert the local and LGB&T media if you feel there is a problem.

Prosecution takes time

Something to remember is that, depending on the severity of the incident, it can take a while for it to go to court and for the person(s) to be prosecuted under the law for what they have done.

"It took almost 10 months. A long ten months.", hate crime victim Marc Robinson says. "After spending a number of hours in the police station straight after being subjected to a homophobic hate incident to put in a statement I really just wanted to go home but I knew how important it was to report it."

"I hoped that it would all be taken care of without me but, as I was the victim, I didn't realise what else would be required of me. A call from Victim Support a day after the incident informed me of what I should expect in the months to come.

"A big shock was that this person claimed to be 'not guilty'. I was stunned and disappointed. I felt like there was no point in continuing as everyone knows that the legal system is pro-criminal and anti-victim. Victim Support and the Police both explained to me that this was standard in these cases to avoid prosecution. This made me even more determined to see it through.

"First up was a video photo fit - this isn't always the case but, as I had lost sight of my attacker between the time of the event and the person being arrested for a short time, it was legally required that I identify them. It took a month to organise this, though I successfully made the identification so it was off to court.

"It pretty much becomes a waiting game at this point. A number of letters are sent to you from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with possible court dates. You say what you can and can't do, any holidays or other committments you have coming up are asked for and eventually you get a date to appear.

"If you have never been to court before you can arrange with the CPS to go and have a tour of court so it'll be a bit more familiar on the day. This really helped me to relax and get rid of some of the nervousness.

"On the day, you go into a different entrance to them so you won't see them straight away by accident.

"I was then taken to the witness suite where you can sit and relax and talk to the court-appointed solicitor as well as read over your statement from all those months ago. You'll only be called if and when you're needed.

"So that's where it ended for me. When the legal representative for the person who abused me found out that I had turned up, they instantly changed their plea from 'not-guilty' to 'guilty'. I didn't even have to go in to the courtroom! I was awarded damages though that wasn't important to me. The person was convicted of a homophobic hate crime."

One thing to take from Marc's experience is that the person committing the hate crime or incident is clearly expecting you not to turn up at court. If this happens they get away with it. Simple as that.

We can't, as a community, let that happen.