The head of a leading local LGBTQ group has backed a police move to officially record domestic abuse in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships.
Jess Eastoe, who co-founded BYOU+ which leads the organisation of Wigan Pride Festival, gave her support to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) becoming the first force in the country to take the step.
Ms Eastoe said the decision to record LGBT abuse was an important sign to the community that issues involving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people were being taken seriously.
However, she warned there was also a lot of bridge-building work still to do.
Ms Eastoe said: “It’s a very positive step in the right direction that the police are doing this and it’s good that GMP is leading by example. Generally it is known as an LGBT-friendly force.
“However, the LGBT community has been let down many times in the past over hate crimes and being taken seriously.
It’s a very positive step in the right direction that the police are doing this and it’s good that GMP is leading by exampleJess Eastoe
“The LGBT community needs allies in authority who will support it and engage with it, because social isolation is a massive issue. To know the police are on their side and taking domestic issues seriously is a real positive.
“We have experience of dealing with this kind of situation at BYOU+ and have seen domestic issues involving vulnerable people which have gone unreported.
“Victims often don’t know who to reach out to. I do think this is quite a serious issue in same-sex relationships and there’s also the problem that people stereotypically think domestic abuse is just about a man against a woman, when the true picture is a lot deeper than that.
“Within the category of LGBT relationships we’ve got many different types of abuse between trans, bisexual, lesbian and gay people. There’s also a big issue of emotional abuse for people who are new to the community.”
Ms Eastoe said she was particularly pleased with GMP’s action in the year of the half-century anniversary of homosexuality being decriminalised.
GMP officially launched its new crime recording method Forcewide today with the backing of The LGBT Foundation and women’s domestic abuse helpline Independent Choices.
A pilot scheme in the City of Manchester has seen more than 150 cases of LGBT domestic abuse recorded and from today the initiative is being rolled out force-wide.
Previously sexuality was only recorded if it was the motive for a hate crime.
Police and partnership workers have also received extra training to deal sensitively with people facing domestic abuse and a new independent domestic violence advisor brought on board as a partnership between Independent Choices and The LGBT Foundation.
It is hoped the new scheme will add to GMP’s current work to capture trends and patterns and ultimately tackle the issue and support victims in the most effective way possible.
Detective Chief Inspector Myra Ball from GMP said: “This is a huge step forward in tackling domestic abuse specifically within the LGBT community here in Greater Manchester, and shows our commitment to supporting all victims of domestic abuse in the best way possible for them.
“This code will help us to identify and monitor LGBT domestic abuse incidents, which in turn will help us shape any processes needed to tackle it.
“We are also continuing our work with the national LGBT domestic abuse helpline at Galop to better understand the issues surrounding domestic abuse in the LGBT community and encourage victims and friends and family of victims to report the issue and have the confidence to come forward.”
The issue of abuse in LGBT relationships is currently being highlighted on primetime TV by a storyline in hospital drama Holby City.