To celebrate the ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month’ in the UK, South Wales Police is flying the Gay Pride Flag at police headquarters in Bridgend.
The national celebration follows in the wake of South Wales Police being named the most gay-friendly employer in Wales by the gay rights organisation, Stonewall, who placed the police force as 17th in the top 100 British businesses for gay people to work in.
Deputy Chief Constable Peter Vaughan of South Wales Police said,
“As part of our commitment to all our diverse communities, we are proud to fly the international Gay Pride Flag this month – with its rainbow motif which is a sign of diversity, peace and inclusiveness.”
“February 2008 marks the fourth year for this event and celebrates the lives and achievements of the gay community.”
"The flag has been flying throughout the whole of February and demonstrates our continuous pledge to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community that we will not tolerate ‘homophobic hate crime’.”
Recognising it as a priority, South Wales Police have for a long time had specialist staff in its Minorities Support Unit to deal with this type of crime, which can range from verbal abuse, to assault, intimidation, damage to property, burglary, hate mail, harassment and anti-social behaviour.
It also has a dedicated Hate Crime Police Officer in Cardiff; Swansea; Rhondda Cynon Taff & Merthyr Tydfil; Bridgend; Vale of Glamorgan; and Neath & Port Talbot divisions who provide ongoing support to victims of such crimes.
Last year (06/07), the public reported 254 homophobic-related incidents to South Wales Police. DCC Vaughan continued, “We want the people of south Wales to live in an environment that is free from direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation in the form of homophobia.”
In the last 12 months, the following examples of ‘homophobic hate crime’ occurred in south Wales:
1. Long term victimisation
Over a three-year period, a male victim was subjected to verbal abuse, stone throwing, damage to his property, a burglary and constant kicking of a football against his wall by local youths. A South Wales Police led initiative, with housing landlords and the Community Safety Partnership, resulted in the identification of the youths involved and anti-social behaviour referrals being submitted for all of them. The landlords were eventually able to evict the main perpetrators and the victim was offered priority housing transfer which he accepted. No further issues have arisen for him surrounding his sexuality.
2. Harassment in the workplace
A female was subject to ongoing homophobic abuse and discrimination at her place of work from both supervisors and colleagues.
A South Wales Police led partnership strategy was implemented whereby CCTV, high-visibility policing at relevant times and places, and staff training was set up and independent support agencies referred to.
The victim was previously on sick leave with stress for some time but felt able to return to work once it was evident of the level of support she had received from the police.
3. Hate Mail
A neighbour dispute which was ongoing for some time was due to the fact that the victims neighbour had become aware of his sexuality and as a result complained constantly regarding the alleged activity within the victim’s household. This included hate mail being received by the victim from the neighbour.
Both victim and neighbour were issued with an anti-social behaviour warning letter and liaison was conducted between both parties which resulted in an understanding between both and tolerance of each others’ lifestyles. No further issues have emerged.
If you are a victim of this type of crime, report it to the police directly or use the ‘TRUE VISION’ packs, which is a third-party crime reporting pack left at libraries, gay venues, health centres, and community centres to enable victims of hate crime to have an alternative to attending at a police station.