Page last updated at 05:43 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 06:43 UK

Guide for victims of hate crime

Gay couple
Gay people in Wales who suffer hate crime are being encouraged to report it

Victims of homophobic hate crime are being encouraged by police and a gay rights group to report attacks on them.

Stonewall Cymru believes attacks on gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Wales are underreported.

The gay rights group has worked with North Wales Police to produced a guide for victims of homophobic hate crime.

A spokesperson said: "It's essential for victims of homophobic hate crime to understand that criminal justice agencies are there to help them."

The guide is launched at the Inter Change, Old Colwyn, at an event to be attended by North Wales Police Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom and Social Justice Minster Brian Gibbons.

The event includes a theatre piece written by Gruffudd Jones based on a true life experience of homophobic hate crime.

Rachel, who has lived in small village near Swansea for the past seven years, said her experience showed people can benefit from reporting hate crime.

A number of ASBOs were issued - it has sent out a very strong clear signal to the young people in the community
Hate crime victim, Rachel

She said: "At times I think were seen as an easy target who can be picked on. I suppose the presumption is that nobody will stick up for us and that we're fair game.

"To begin with, I didn't go to the police about some of these things. It didn't occur to me there was any law against the name-calling. I didn't think I would get a sympathetic hearing from the police.

"A lot of my friends who are lesbian and gay told me of negative experiences that they've had when they tried reporting crime. There tends to be this negative idea in the community and it puts people off."

She said she had no response from the police one winter when young boys began throwing snowballs with stones in them at her windows.

She said: "The same boys came and did 'mooning'. Then, again, they were throwing stones.

'Arson attack'

"They put some handfuls of potential flammable rubbish through the letterbox. The local secondary school was burnt to the ground not very far from where we were living and it made me very frightened at that time that we might be at risk of an arson attack.

"It was at that point that I involved the hate crime officers. From that point on, I felt as if the service we were receiving from the police improved enormously.

"The fire service came and assess the fire safety of the house and the police started to take us more seriously, really and to pursue the culprits more effectively.

"A number of Asbos were issued. It has sent out a very strong clear signal to the young people in the community. We're treated with much more respect these days."

Honour for hate crime policeman
29 Dec 07 |  South West Wales

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