Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Some Success in Tackling Hate Crime

I seem to be finally getting a few readers to my blogs and I will be writing about how on my Small Business Marketing Strategies blog later. But I thought it might be a good idea to give you an update today on my Hate Crime experiences - which I am glad to say seem to be coming under control.

Like all stories, the hate crime incidents I wrote about on 3rd December got worse before they got better - in fact Monday 4th December was so bad that I called 999 (911) three time that evening and suffered more broken windows and mud spots covered the front of my house. I also started having problem with the emergency call centre who seemed not to be able to grasp that a systematic night after night attack on my home by kids was more than an annoyance. Messages to the police were being relayed by email and not picked up for a couple of days, the CCTV centre was either not being notified or failed to understand the seriousness of the situation.

At the same time the kids were beginning to think there were untouchable and as well as other trans abuse, were standing 25 yards away taunting with "Why don't you call the police then?" When the police did attend, it was often two or three hours after the event. By 7:30 pm the kids has all dispersed leaving me stressed, upset and frustrated at not being able to do anything.

In the UK we have pretty much banned guns, thankfully. I have a small hunting bow and I was getting tempted to use it, if we had a gun culture here I am sure I would have fired off a few rounds and in all likelyhood have triggered a far more serious problem. If I lived in the US as a trans women there is a 1:12 chance of me being murdered for being trans - so in some ways I can count my blessings.

On Wednesday 5th however I had a meeting with the beat officer from the neighbourhood policing team and started to see a glimmer of hope that things would be done to stop this. In Hull the city is split into 7 areas, and each has a local policing team - the Local Beat Officer (a Police Constable or PC) who now manages a team of Police Community Support Officers. (PCSO) They have not had the full rigorous training of a PC, and many of them were traffic wardens who became PCSO's when the parking system was privatised. The reality is that they are what we in the UK all used to know as the "Bobby on the Beat." Their role is to patrol on foot in the community (at least 80% of their time) assisted by Special Constables who are part time police officers.

I have nothing but praise for this new approach to community policing because it is this that seems to have brought the campaign of hate against me to an end. Unfortunately the PCSOs are not on duty all the time and at weekends many get pulled into the city centre to help manage the binge drinking problems and weekend revelry .

Monday 11th everything reached a climax. A gang of about 12 boys and girls were throwing abuse, mud and stones and the only way to stop them was to stand outside of my house and face them. I reported the attack eventually after the 999 centre refused to take the call and then a breakthrough. Somehow a conversation started with one of the kids and the rest came forward to join in and I spent about 20 minutes doing the education about gender difference that our schools not just fail to do but refuse to do. "Oh the parents don't like it" they claim - Of course they don't - they had the same bigoted Christian based education their children are getting.

Suddenly the kids started to disperse and I realised that the policing team had arrived - Some kids vanished, others got their names taken and the problems were over for the night. The next two nights 4 officers were on patrol all evening which seemed to discourage any further action that week. Saturday and the officers were back in force on the beat and suddenly there is a real sense of a police presence, something many of the other neighbours are pleased to see and the gangs of kids have moved on or dispersed.

What a relief last night - the first Monday for a month when I have not had a window broken. I am now on first name terms with all the PCSOs and have heard lots of positive comments from shopkeepers and neighbours, pleased to see the impact of the police (all except the owner of the untaxed car opposite who has just picked up a big fine).

The recruitment of PCSOs is new - so this is the first time we have really experienced the impact of community policing and I must say I like it. It's a return to a time of good friendly relationships with the police with a "bobby on the beat", even if they are all dressed in flack jackets with a huge array of equipment but which thankfully in the UK does not include any guns.

I would not wish to go though this experience again - but I can say that as a result there is now a growing sense of achievement and because I have connections with the entire system, we will now all be working hard to learn from this and find a way to make sure that other people do not have to go through this because they are disabled, gay, black, old or in any other way different.

Share this Post