Manchester police record 775 cases of LGBT domestic abuse

Campaigners praise force for highlighting issue, with most victims taking up support

Greater Manchester police have recorded 775 cases of domestic abuse in the LGBT community since it became the first UK force to officially log figures a year ago.

The force said it was encouraged by the reporting of the cases since last April, but the issue was still under-recorded. It accounts for about 2% of the total domestic abuse recorded by police in the region.

The figures, released on Tuesday, include domestic abuse involving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims.

DS Sarah Harris, the GMP officer leading the scheme, urged other forces to adopt the protocol, which she said had enabled officers to better understand the issue and to tailor support for victims.

“I’m unsure exactly what other forces are doing; however, from a Greater Manchester point of view, I know we understand the community more, we’ve got better links to the community, and we can work with our partners to make sure we keep encouraging those links,” she told the Guardian.

“We’ve shared our ideas nationwide and that includes all the different representatives who chair meetings like this. Hopefully, it’s being replicated across the country.”

All forces record incidents of domestic abuse; however, GMP is believed to be the only force to officially log LGBT cases under a separate code. Previously, the force only recorded a victim’s sexuality in hate crime cases.

Joanne Simpson, the director of the domestic abuse charity Independent Choices, said it was disappointing that other forces had not taken up the scheme.

She said: “When you highlight a problem, it means you have to address it. I think GMP have been revolutionary in highlighting the issue here. It’s a model that could be replicated across the country. I think if we don’t look for problems then we can pretend they’re not there – it’s easier for the state to ignore that there is an issue with LGBT domestic abuse.”

Victims in medium and high-risk cases reported to GMP are referred to the Manchester-based Independent Choices for follow-up support. Simpson said she had been amazed that about 70% of those referred by police had taken up support, adding that she expected only about a third of victims to ask for help.

She credited the GMP model with improving levels of follow-up support and added: “I think if people offer services with the right intent and approach people in the right way, and make people feel comfortable that the right support is there, then they will take up help.”

  • Greater Manchester’s domestic abuse helpline is 0161 636 7525. The 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline is 0808 2000 247.

Contributor

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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