Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Police handed hate crime guidance

Police have received new guidance on the handling of hate crimes

People who indulge in public sex outdoors should not be denied police protection against hate crimes, even when their actions are unlawful, chief police officers have said.

Officers have a duty to protect people who are victimised or targeted as a result of having sex in public, the guidance, issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos), said.

The Hate Crime Guidance Manual said issues surrounding open-air sex "can be complex" but warned that "police must accept they have the dual responsibility of ensuring that any victims of crime in such environments receive a professional response".

But Les Gray, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, told Police Review magazine: "I do not believe our officers require a 60-page booklet to tell them we should carry out our duties without fear, favour, malice or ill will.

"No matter what the circumstances, our officers will always do their utmost to prevent crime in the first instance and where a crime has been committed assist the victim and endeavour to detect the culprit."

The guidance, published last week, said: "Whilst complaints regarding consensual public sex must be considered and responded to, it must also be noted that people engaging in such activity are potential targets for hate crime perpetrators.

"Reporting of crime committed in these environments can present particular problems, as victims may not wish to report victimisation due to a misconception that the police will primarily be interested in why they were there, as opposed to tackling hate or prejudice motivated crime."

Police also "have a responsibility to ensure that local community concerns are adequately addressed", it said.

Chief Constable Ian Latimer, the Acpos lead on equality and diversity, said the manual "gathers best practice and provides officers with guidance on how to recognise and investigate hate crime to secure the desired outcome and results for all parties involved".

He added: "Research has shown that due to the severe emotional trauma, victims of hate crime can take longer to recover than victims of non-biased crime. The Scottish Police Service recognises the impact this type of crime has on our communities and is committed to tackling hate crime and supporting those who have been a victim."

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