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Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
New blue hue to 'pink triangle'
Holding hands
The gay community tends to be wary of reporting attacks
A Scottish police force has launched a campaign to strengthen links with the local gay community.

The initiative by Lothian and Borders Police aims to persuade gay and lesbian members of the community that they will be treated equally by the force.

At the same time, police say they will recognise the gay community has special concerns and different needs.

Among the measures being introduced are specially-trained officers to work with gay people and a higher police profile in areas of the city where there is a greater proportion of gay residents.

Efforts to promote a better mutual understanding and increased confidence will focus on the area around the city's Broughton Street, known as Edinburgh's "pink triangle".

Other measures include:

  • A dedicated police surgery based in Broughton Street which will run for a one-year trial period

  • Contact telephone numbers for community officers to be handed out to all gay venues in poster format and on flyers

  • Letters to all licencees in the Greenside/Broughton Street areas highlighting increased police attention aimed at building community relations

  • Crime prevention visits to pubs, clubs and restaurants in the area

  • Literature on crime reporting, domestic violence and police services for local businesses

  • Advertising of police services through the gay press

  • External training inputs for police officers

  • Consideration to be given to anonymous "remote" reporting.

Police in Edinburgh acknowledge that the gay community in the city has less confidence in the force than others in the capital.

They may be targetted by criminals because of their sexuality, and they are less likely to report attacks against them.

As a result, police are not given a full picture of the extent of homophobic incidents, while those responsible for such attacks are not caught.

Police car
The move is a drive towards greater trust
Consideration is now being given to enabling victims to report incidents anonymously.

Chief Superintendent Malcolm Dickson, who will oversee the operation, said: "At present we know there is a problem with under-reporting of crimes for a number of different reasons.

"Some victims are not in a position to say openly that they are gay and therefore that the crime may have been motivated for that reason.

"Others may be reluctant to be tagged as a victim of homophobic crime."

'It's a long road'

He added that, ideally, the force wanted all crime victims to come forward but he acknowledged that not everyone felt that they could.

"It's a long road. In many respects we are lucky, we have a focussed, well-established community and we are used to their presence and the policing issues that are thrown up.

"In that respect we may be ahead of other police forces but there is still a long way to go and we are constantly refining our approach and, I'd like to think, improving our skills in relating to the gay community."

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See also:

29 Oct 99 | Scotland
Gays and lesbians 'face violence'
07 Feb 00 | Scotland
Gay men 'more at risk of attack'
07 Feb 00 | Education
Anti-gay bullies 'given free rein'
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