Police apology over Birmingham homophobic attack delay – BBC News


A man who was punched in the throat in a homophobic attack says police are not taking such crimes seriously.
Patrick, 36, was hurt in Birmingham's Gay Village a day after police made safety pledges at a protest over a series of attacks in the area.
He said in his case, evidence was not gathered and asked West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) if it would "take a murder" for more action.
The force apologised and said a number of safety measures had been brought in.
PCC Simon Foster said crimes against LGBTQ+ people would "not be tolerated" and that he was committed to tackling them.
Patrick said he was suddenly punched in the throat by a man on Hurst Street, following a night out in the village in October.
"It did shake me up for a little while," he said. "We just have to be really careful and look after each other."
He still has vocal damage from the "painful" injury.
Patrick said despite recording the offence as a hate crime, West Midlands Police (WMP) officers did not gather a venue's CCTV footage at the time, which he had informed them was available.
He was contacted by an officer "almost three months later", by which time the footage had been deleted, he added.
Patrick said a friend who was attacked and mugged on Hurst Street before Christmas had a similar experience with police, while another friend was "horrifically attacked" on the same street last week.
After looking into the report of Patrick's assault, Ch Insp James Spencer said it was found "an unacceptable time passed before it was allocated to an investigator".
"This was a failure in our investigation and triage processes which has been corrected, although I understand this does little to compensate the victim who, quite rightly, sought justice for what he had suffered.
"I extend my sincere apologies to him."
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Birmingham's Gay Village in October, in response to a spate of hate crimes in the area.
At the time, the PCC said the number of police patrols had been increased and he had commissioned a £200,000 service to support victims of hate crimes.
"Support is nice but I would prefer people to be caught and prosecuted," Patrick said.
Writing to Mr Foster, he said it was "clear that WMP are not taking these crimes seriously".
Patrick moved to the city at the age of 19 to go to university and previously felt secure, particularly in the "safe space" of the village.
However, he said the situation had changed.
"I think for the last year or two it has got worse and worse," he said. "You hear about something every week or every other week.
"It's something that is on our minds every time we go out."
Ch Insp Spencer said the force was working to improve safety.
"We now have a dedicated police constable in an LGBTQ+ role and have significantly increased patrols and engagement," he said.
Measures include a "pop-up police station" in Hurst Street at weekends.
"We have reassessed the way we prioritise crime reports so that homophobic incidents are highlighted and dealt with quickly," he added.
The force and Mr Foster said police were working with bars and clubs, the council and Business Improvement District.
"Nobody should feel unsafe or fear they will be a victim of crime because of who they love or where they go to enjoy themselves," Mr Foster said.
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