Belfast Telegraph

Call to reduce homophobic crimes

More needs to be done to catch those guilty of homophobic crimes in Northern Ireland, the Policing Board has urged.

A new report by the PSNI's scrutiny body has noted that 27% of all crimes committed in Northern Ireland last year were detected, but for incidents with a homophobic motivation the "clearance rate" was only 17%.

While the thematic review on policing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals commended the PSNI on striving to address offences against that community, it said work was still needed.

The detection rate for crimes against transgender individuals was 12.5% last year, although the number of incidents was low.

The review by the board's Human Rights and Professional Standards committee said of 32 transphobic crimes committed between 2006 and 2011, only two were cleared.

Chair of the HRPS committee Conall McDevitt said members had made 18 recommendations to the police.

"The current detection rates for homophobic and transphobic-motivated crimes fall well below the average crime detection rate and we recommend that this is reflected in the next Policing Plan," he said.

The SDLP board member said he hoped the review would highlight the discrimination and prejudice directed at marginalised groups within society. "Whilst this is not a problem created by the police, nor can the police alone eradicate it, in terms of the criminal justice system the police are often the first point of contact," he said.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie welcomed the review and stressed the police were committed to improving clearance rates for crimes against individuals in the LGBT community.

"We will examine each of the recommendations in detail made within the report and consider how these will further inform policy and operational practice within PSNI," she said.

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