I was recently fortunate to be invited to a meeting organised by my local council’s LGBT team, the focus of which was the problems that trans people face, from finding support to dealing with discrimination.
One of the speakers was my area’s LGBT police representative; he proudly informed us that Bristol has the second largest police LGBT team in the country with 22 officers, second only to London.
He addressed the problem of hate crimes faced by not only LGBT people but those who are considered to be LGBT due to people perceiving them as such. I have been victim to several physical attacks and numerous verbal attacks over the last four years so his talk resonated strongly with me.
The physical attacks on me were always reported without hesitation but I often let the verbal attacks go unreported. This will no longer be the case. The reason I often didn’t report the verbal abuse was due to the feeling that nothing would come of it and the worry that I’d be wasting precious police resources. The police officer who spoke that day has changed my view.
Here in the UK we have two phone lines for the police, if a call is urgent and you need a police car to be dispatched urgently then you should always use 999 as your number of choice. If the call is not urgent then we have the number 101 which you can use.
The officer giving the talk explained to us that there is no such thing as a trivial call or waste of time and resources. The reason is simple: should someone verbally abuse you for being LGBT then the police really want to know about it even if you don’t wish to have charges pressed.
If we don’t report verbal abuse then the verbal abuse risks escalating into a physical attack. If the police receive a report of transphobic or homophobic abuse then they’ll know that they need to have a more visible presence in that area.
Many people don’t want to go through the reporting process but there’s something that many people don’t know here in the UK: if you use the 101 phone number you can report an incident without giving your name. This will allow the police to have a more accurate idea of how many incidents there truly are, and, in the long run, will aid the police in tackling phobic behaviour.
Whilst this article talks about the UK it’s a universal truth that if something goes unreported then the law enforcers cannot effectively enforce the law.
Here is another tip. If you are in a foreign country and you do not know the emergency number, 112 on a mobile phone almost always routes you to emergency services. I think the only exception really is China.