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Tackling domestic abuse in the LGBT community

DCS Vanessa Jardine, Emma Baldry from Broken Rainbow, Lord Mayor Councillor Carl Austin-Behan, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Jim Battle and Paul Martin OBE from LGBT Foundation.
DCS Vanessa Jardine, Emma Baldry from Broken Rainbow, Lord Mayor Councillor Carl Austin-Behan, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Jim Battle and Paul Martin OBE from LGBT Foundation.

[G]reater Manchester Police will become the first UK force to introduce official recording of domestic abuse in the LGBT community reinforcing its commitment to tackling the underreported crime.

Officers in one area of Greater Manchester have had extra training to increase their understanding of the different needs of people who find themselves in domestic abuse situations and they will now be able to record the incident with a specific code if the relationship is between members of the LGBT community.

No other police force in the UK has recorded this information before and GMP hopes that its introduction will add to their current work to capture trends and patterns, ultimately leading them to tackle the issue in the most effective way.

The code was welcomed with a launch event on Manchester’s Canal Street on Thursday 2 June, with Manchester’s new Lord Mayor, Councillor Carl Austin-Behan, lending his support alongside DCS Vanessa Jardine from GMP, representatives from Broken Rainbow and LGBT Foundation and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Jim Battle.

Detective Chief Superintendent Vanessa Jardine from GMP said: “We have worked long and hard alongside organisations like Broken Rainbow and the LGBT Foundation to introduce this code and show the LGBT community that we will continue to tackle domestic abuse.

“This is another strong step in the right direction in dispelling some myths and gives people the confidence to report crimes in the knowledge that it will be dealt with appropriately – we want to encourage victims and friends and family of victims to report the issue and have the confidence to come forward.”

Starting next week (6 June) the code will be piloted in GMP’s city of Manchester borough over the next six months. If the trial is a success, the code will be rolled out across the Force and the information will be shared with support organisations such as Broken Rainbow and the LGBT Foundation to help shape services, set priorities and further develop the support that is available.

D66 has been introduced alongside training with Broken Rainbow, the national charity that supports victims of domestic abuse in the LGBT community. The training saw over 200 officers learn about issues surrounding domestic abuse specifically in the LGBT community and the barriers that exist around reporting.

Emma Baldry, Training Co-Ordinator at Broken Rainbow said: “I was incredibly proud to be able to deliver this important training and was really encouraged by the positive comments and input from the officers taking part. I’m confident that having this code in place will give us all a truer reflection of reporting of domestic abuse within LGBT relationships.

“Prior to the new coding being introduced, national statistics gathered on reports filed do not record sexual orientation.  We believe that 1 in 4 for LGB relationships, and 4 in 5 Trans relationships involves domestic abuse. This new code will enable Greater Manchester Police to collect data that will give us a more accurate picture of the extent of LGBT domestic abuse in the Greater Manchester area.  This will help us to strengthen our partnership with GMP in supporting the LGBT community and hopefully other forces across the UK will follow their lead.”

GMP has previously recorded a victim’s sexuality when it has been a motivation for a hate crime but, alongside other work to raise awareness of domestic abuse within the LGBT community, this new code will see them further break down the stigma attached to domestic abuse.

The change comes just seven months after GMP made a pledge to adapt their system as part of awareness raising campaign “There’s no pride in domestic abuse”. The first of its kind, the campaign was specifically dedicated to the LGBT community and was launched ahead of 2015’s Manchester Pride Festival.

Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “This is another positive step towards breaking the stigma of domestic abuse and will help to give us a clearer picture of the issue within the LGBT community.  This should bring hope to the many silent victims of abuse and encourage more people to come forward, confident that help and support is available.”

Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Carl Austin-Behan, said: “This is a huge step forward for British policing, and Greater Manchester Police is demonstrating real leadership by being the first force in the country to identify LGBT domestic abuse and violence. All communities are affected by domestic abuse and violence and sadly the LGBT community is no exception. This will give confidence to LGBT people in abusive relationships, or who know someone who is, that if they come forward they will be taken seriously and treated with dignity and respect. Too many LGBT victims of domestic abuse suffer in silence, and don’t know where to turn. This important development will encourage more to speak out.”

Jessica White at the LGBT Foundation said: “A quarter of LGBT people in the UK will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, many LGBT people remain afraid to report their victimisation or access support. This means that far too often, LGBT victims of domestic abuse will suffer prolonged abuse in silence.

“We hope that the additional training given to GMP on supporting LGBT victims of domestic abuse, as well as the new code for recording LGBT domestic abuse will enable GMP to provide a more effective response to LGBT victims of domestic abuse. This will help LGBT victims of domestic abuse to have the confidence to report their abuse, and to get the support they need.”

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