Oxford homophobia

Local News National News News University News

There has been a rise in the number of homophobic crimes reported to police in the area.

Figures released by Thames Valley police, the force covering Oxfordshire as well as Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, show that the number of crimes of a homophobic nature rose by 31 incidents between April 2012 and March 2013, to a total of 142.

There was also a 13.3% drop in non-recordable homophobic crime, which includes offences that police did not file a crime report for.

The figures are part of a wider range of statistics showing that crime overall in the Thames Valley area is lower than it was last year. Although there was a rise in homophobic crime, recordable racist crime followed the overall trend and dropped by 10.8%.

Ashley Francis-Roy, LGBT rep at Queen’s College, said the figures showed that “aggressive and discriminatory behaviour” towards LGBT people still existed.

“This new information perhaps also demonstrates that people are becoming more confident in reporting homophobic crime. Many people who are involved in homophobic-related offences choose not to report it. This is often because they did not believe that what they had experienced was serious enough to report or because they thought the police could or would not do anything about it.”

“It is important, though, that every instance of homophobic crime is challenged to ensure that attitudes in society change. Having a visible and supportive community for students is extremely important as it means a student is more likely to let someone know if they were involved in a homophobic-related offence,” he added.

One student commented: “I haven’t experienced much homophobia in Oxford. Rather than crime, it seems to be more casual homophobia.”

“Thankfully, in general Oxford is a supportive environment for LGBT students, and we would encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed LGBT hate crime to report it to the police,” said a university spokesperson.

Anthony Stansfield, the elected Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley authority, said: “There are still improvements to be made but reducing crime is also a partnership between many organisations, and getting things working well in such things as the criminal justice system has as great effect on reducing crime as anything the police can do,” Mr Stansfield said.

“I shall be doing all I can to get these partnerships working better over the next year,” he added.

The statistics stand out in relation to other areas in the country. The Metropolitan Police, covering London, saw an 11.5% drop in homophobic crime during the period of March 2012 to February 2013 from the previous year.