Northumbria Police has developed a new role to work with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities.
The LGB&T Liaison Officers aim to increase engagement, trust and confidence to encourage victims of homophobic and transphobic crimes to come forward.
It follows an initiative by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, who set up an advisory group dedicated to LGB&T needs on her election in 2012.
Liaison officers will work closely with LGB&T communities across the force to gain a greater understanding of the needs and issues that affect them.
The role will provide a vital link between communities, groups and venues to promote awareness of their issues, as well as offer advice, guidance and information to police officers and staff to provide a greater understanding of LGB&T community needs.
Victims of crime who believe they have been targeted because of their disability, gender identity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation are victims of a hate crime, and as part of the drive to promote better understanding, officers will be visiting shopping centres, businesses, universities and community groups with the message ‘being you is not a crime – targeting you is’.
Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Coleman said: “We know victims of a hate crime can feel apprehensive about reporting it to police and that homophobic and transphobic crimes are under-reported.
“We want to make sure we’re working with LGB&T communities to identify what the issues they face are and what can be done to overcome this so that people have the confidence and reassurance they need to come forward.
“LGB&T Liaison Officers will be working with LGB&T communities to gain a greater understanding of what police and other agencies can do to increase trust and confidence and ensure a victim-led approach.”
Commissioner Vera Baird said: “I’m pleased that Northumbria Police has dedicated LGB&T Liaison Officers who are continuing to work with communities to ensure they have greater confidence in the force.
“When I was elected in 2012, I set up an advisory group dedicated to LGB&T needs and we enjoy frank and open discussions where members tell me what Northumbria Police is doing well and what could be improved.
“These new roles within Northumbria Police will further support the work I’m doing to ensure we continue to have an excellent relationship.”