Award for reducing homophobic crimes

A NEW scheme aimed at reducing homophobic crime in Suffolk has been recognised with a national award. Suffolk Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has received an Equity and Diversity award from the national body of the CPS for its work with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups.

A NEW scheme aimed at reducing homophobic crime in Suffolk has been recognised with a national award.

Suffolk Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has received an Equity and Diversity award from the national body of the CPS for its work with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups.

The work centred around introducing new polices aimed at prosecuting cases either motivated or aggravated by homophobia.

Chris Yule, Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: "This award not only acknowledges the improvements we have made in prosecuting cases with a homophobic element but the two-way dialogue we have established and maintained with the gay community."

In close liaison with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups, the CPS developed a form which victims of homophobic crime can use to alert police about the offence.

The system, developed by the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender)/Police Link group in Suffolk allows people who feel unable to report a crime directly to the police to report it anonymously to a third party.

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Information gathered from the forms will be used to help police to tailor their approach to further reducing the incidence of homophobic crime.

The scheme resulted in lawyers receiving expert training, including gay and lesbian awareness training by Suffolk MESMAC (Men Who Have Sex With Men Action in the Community).

Rod Flory, chairman of the LGBT/Police Link group said: "The closer relationship between the criminal justice agencies and the gay community helps to build trust and transparency within the community.

"Knowing that if you are attacked because of your sexual orientation you will be offered support by people who understand the issues that you face and being confident that your case will be investigated and prosecuted with sensitivity and understanding reassures members of the community that they are protected from such hatred."

David Hutson, a homophobic crime specialist with the CPS, added: "Being open to the experiences of the gay and lesbian community in Suffolk allows us to understand the issues that they face not only when reporting a crime but also in seeing the prosecution through to court.

"The diversity training provided by Suffolk Mesmac allowed prosecutors and caseworkers to understand the pressures faced by victims of homophobic crime."

Weblink: www.cps.gov.uk

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