Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes surge after end of Covid lockdowns

3 December 2021, 00:01 | Updated: 4 January 2022, 12:35

Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes saw an increase after Covid restrictions were eased.
Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes saw an increase after Covid restrictions were eased. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The number of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes recorded by police in the UK has risen to the highest level since the Covid pandemic began.

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The sharp rise came after lockdown restrictions came to an end over summer, spiking with the highest monthly level since 2019.

Some 14,670 sexual orientation hate crime offences were recorded from January to August 2021, compared with 11,841 in the same period of 2020 and 10,817 in 2019.

The average jumped up to 2,211 per month between May and August this year, despite being at 1,456 a month from January to April.

The same increase was evident after the first lockdown in 2020, with homophobic offences averaging 1,236 a month from March to May, then 1,840 from June to August.

As for transphobic offences, numbers averaged at 324 for May to August - an increase from 208 a month from January to April.

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LGBT charity Stonewall claimed that the patterns were "worrying", but that figures were unlikely to present the full picture due to under-reporting.

However, several police forces said the increase could instead reflect improvements in how they are recorded and greater public awareness of how to report offences.

Eloise Stonborough, Stonewall's associate director of policy and research, said: "LGBTQ+ people have struggled throughout the pandemic, with many not having access to vital support networks and spaces during lockdowns.

"It's always worrying to see an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime, particularly at a time when our communities were more isolated than ever."

Meanwhile, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) urged more victims to come forward, saying officers would "treat everyone with respect and dignity and handle cases sensitively".

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the NPCC lead for hate crime, added: "We will always pursue action against perpetrators of hate crime where there is the evidence to do so.

"The public will understand that we must prioritise our finite resources towards those who face the most imminent threats of harm.

"Unfortunately, sometimes the evidence is scarce and there are no witnesses to the crime.

"Particularly in recent years, and with more people moving their abuse online due to pandemic restrictions, it may be the case that a suspect cannot be identified because of anonymity online, and a charge cannot be brought."