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BBC Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh reports
"If you're lesbian gay bisexual or transgender you're up to 14 times more likely to be attacked than if you're straight"
 real 56k

Friday, 22 June, 2001, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Police target homophobic attacks
Gay couple
The force is encouraging victims to report crimes
Victims of homophobic crimes have been encouraged to report them to the police through a new initiative launched in Edinburgh.

The project aims to strengthen the relationship between police officers and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community in Scotland's capital.

Mirroring the successful Remote Racial Reporting Scheme, it will allow victims to report their experiences via a third party organisation.

Sir Roy Cameron
Sir Roy Cameron: "A major task"
The one-year initiative is designed bring about a better understanding of the extent of homophobic crime in Edinburgh.

The levels of harassment and violence experienced by members of the capital's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community are said to be on the increase.

However, the level of reporting of these crimes to Lothian and Borders Police remains low.

The initiative aims to encourage the victims of homophobic crimes to tell their story in the knowledge that they will be treated sympathetically and confidentially.

The force has consulted the Lothian Gay and Lesbian Switchboard, Gay Men's Health and the Stonewall Youth Project in developing the project.

Annual march

Victims will be able to approach the police through these three voluntary organisations - and can remain anonymous if they wish.

The scheme was launched on Friday, in advance of the annual Pride Scotland march which is expected to attract 5,000 people to the city centre.

Chief Constable Sir Roy Cameron, said: "There is a need for the police service to continue to explore ways of reaching out to those who suffer victimisation in silence.

"Yet I am aware that simply to encourage people to come directly to the police is not enough.

"This initiative is a major task, but I would see collaborative projects such as this as cornerstones of what we do in the future.

Lothian and Borders Police car
The level of crime is said to be rising
"We can play our part in tackling bigotry and hatred, but to do so effectively we also need the considerable experience and advice of the voluntary sector."

The initiative was welcomed by Keith Cowan, co-convener of the City of Edinburgh LGBT Community Safety Forum.

"It will start to address this issue and encourage people involved in incidents to make that information available," he said.

The force launched a campaign to strengthen links with the local gay and lesbian community last year.

The initiative aimed to persuade its members of the community that they will be treated equally by the force.

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