Forces see transphobic crime hike
Some of the UK's biggest police forces have recorded a rise in transphobic hate crime this year, with victims subjected to assaults, verbal abuse and harassment on the street.
But there are fears the number of offences could be much higher after a leading charity warned crimes against transgender people were "massively under-reported".
Eleven forces revealed they recorded more transphobic hate crimes between January and November than the whole of 2013, according to figures released to the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Metropolitan Police, the country's largest force, saw offences against transgender people soar by 44% in 2014 with 95 crimes recorded, up from 66 last year and 59 in 2012.
They included 53 harassment offences this year, 17 common assaults, seven grievous bodily harm (GBH) offences and seven assaults with injury.
Rape, robbery, criminal damage and burglary were also recorded by the force.
Avon and Somerset Police recorded 38 transgender hate crimes between January and November, up from 22 in 2013 and 12 in 2012.
Meanwhile, Merseyside Police recorded 32 hate crimes that were as classed as transphobic or motivated by a person's gender between January and November, double the number of offences reported in the previous year.
In Suffolk, where police have recorded 63 transphobic hate crimes since 2012, a group of children aged seven to nine verbally abused a transgender person, a rock was used to smash the sunroof of another victim's car and an assault was carried out with a blunt object.
In South Yorkshire, where 16 transphobic hate crimes were recorded since 2012, a transgender person had a brick thrown at them in the street and another victim was punched in the face after having their wig and earrings pulled off.
Meanwhile, in Lincolnshire, where police have recorded 15 transphobic hate crimes since 2012, incidents included two people who were spat at and verbally abused for being transgender and another where transphobic graffiti was sprayed on a house.
Greater Manchester, South Wales, Durham, Kent, Norfolk, West Mercia Police, Northumbria and Gloucestershire police forces also saw transphobic hate crimes rise between January and November compared to last year.
Nottinghamshire Police - which provided figures covering both transgender hate crime and offences motivated by a person's sexual orientation - recorded 67 offences between January and November, compared with 61 in 2013 and 47 in 2012.
And the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said eight transphobic hate crimes were recorded in 2013/14, up from six in 2012/13 and three in 2011/12.
Serge Nicholson, from the charity Galop, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, said transphobic hate crimes recorded by police were a "tiny fraction of the true number".
"A third of trans people in the UK go through transphobic abuse every year," he said.
"That's the second highest of any EU country. Yet only a few hundred transphobic crimes get recorded by the police each year. That has got to be a tiny fraction of the true number.
"As much as 80% of transphobia is not reported. So the rise in transphobic police recording can be viewed as encouraging, though it leaves us with mixed feelings. One transphobic hate crime is one too many.
"It is encouraging that more trans people feel able to come forward to seek help and to report that they are the victims of unacceptable illegal transphobic abuse.
"Trans people are entitled to respect and dignity at home, on the street, from the police and in court."
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has encouraged victims to report transphobic hate crimes, which it acknowledged had been "significantly under-reported".
Chief Constable Jane Sawyers, the national policing lead for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, said: "Targeting someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is totally unacceptable. This abuse affects people's fundamental right to feel safe, secure and confident about themselves.
"Police forces across the UK are committed to reducing all forms of hate crime and bringing offenders to justice. Traditionally, homophobic and transphobic hate crime has been significantly under-reported and we are working hard to ensure the LGBT community feels confident to come forward and report incidents.
"Many police forces have also introduced LGBT liaison officers with specific responsibility for building community links and providing support to victims and witnesses of homophobic and transphobic hate crime.
"We strongly encourage anyone who has experienced transphobic hate crime to report incidents to the police."