09:16AM, Friday 25 August 2017
A rise in the number of homophobic and transphobic crimes has been recorded in the Thames Valley, leading to suggestions an LGBTQ group should be set up in the Royal Borough.
So far this year more than 100 homophobic and transphobic crimes have been recorded by Thames Valley Police across the force area.
A Freedom of Information request shows in Slough this year there have already been 13 homophobic or transphobic crimes recorded, with two in Maidenhead and one in Windsor.
Since 2013 the numbers of crimes in Windsor and Maidenhead has been between three to eight recorded annually in each town.
But Slough has seen increases from 12 in 2013 to 25 last year.
Youth adviser at Slough Borough Council Carla Conte is in charge of Spectrum, a new LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer) group launching in the town next week to provide support and campaigning opportunities for 13 to 19-year-olds.
It was previously called Eight Flags, and ran for about three years. Carla thinks groups like it could help reduce crimes in time.
Cameron Miller, 19, is a representative at the group after joining at 16, and said he finds the numbers of crimes ‘shocking’.
Last year when walking home from college, the openly gay teenager was called a ‘faggot’ and punched in the face, which he reported to the police.
“It made me much more scared around in my community. I thought it would happen but I didn’t think it would be that violent,” he added.
Cameron said over the years he has received support from the group.
“I think my life would have been different without the group. It means I wouldn’t have had any support from people who understand you,” he added.
Royal Borough cabinet member for children’s services Natasha Airey said that although there is no social group for LGBTQ young people, their needs are met through youth services.
“At the moment there is no plan to start one but we do offer universal services that are inclusive for all young people.
“We don’t want to segregate communities, we want to bring this together to diversify communities.
“It is not something that we are not doing – we are doing it in a different way.”
She added that LGBTQ young people are offered advice and support by youth workers.
Overall, across the TVP area 132 homophobic and transphobic crimes have been recorded this year with a steady increase over the past three years.
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