Online outreach is key to tackling hate crime in Croydon, says charity

LGBTQ+ flag, taken at London Pride 2019, Regent Street, London, Pic: Daniel James, Unsplash Media

A strong virtual connection with Croydon’s LGBTQ+ community is needed in order to help reduce hate-crime, a new charity has argued.

Metro Safer is a new hate-crime service which was launched at the end of last month by the national equalities and diversities organisation Metro Charity. The service hopes to act as a new safe space that will encourage more people in the borough to come forward and disclose homophobic and transphobic-related hate crime they have experienced.

At its launch, Croydon council leader Hamida Ali noted that LGBTQ+ related hate crimes currently make up the second highest level of hate-crime in the borough. She said: “Homophobic hate-crime offences…feature currently around 10%…and a further 2%…are transphobic.”

Met police statistics show there were 207 Homophobic and 20 Transgender hate crime offences recorded between October 2018-2020 in Croydon. These are high in comparison to most outer-London boroughs, but average in contrast with central boroughs like Westminster, where 571 Homophobic and 82 Transgender hate crime cases were reported.

Mark Healey, the charity’s hate crime officer, told Eastlondonlines: “We know that hate crime towards LGBT[Q]+ people across England and Wales, and London has risen significantly over the last eight years…However in Croydon the figures have remained more or less the same – we don’t believe that there is less hate crime in Croydon than other parts of London. It is more likely that those experiencing hate crime in the borough are not reporting it. That needs to change.”

Creating that connection has been difficult during the pandemic. Healey added: “We hope to establish ourselves as quickly as we can, although the current covid-19 crisis isn’t helping us as we can’t do the face-to-face outreach work we had planned, but we have adapted and are planning to deliver our service online via some Zoom events and are using social media to connect with people across the borough.”

He added: “At the moment we are focusing on networking and confidence building with as many people and organisations across Croydon as we can – having meetings with key people like Mark Watson, the founder of Croydon Pride Festival, groups like the Croydon Council LGBT+ and Allies Group and Transpals…In the longer term it is about ensuring that Croydon is a safer place for everyone, including all members of the LGBT[Q]+ communities.”

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