Scotland Yard remains hampered by homophobia, says a new report. The UK-based Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Group studied ten hate-crimes and found that coppers don’t quite have a handle on the queers: an ignorance that may have detracted their investigations. The group writes:
If we borrow the terminology of the Macpherson [racist study] report, historical police practice amounted to ‘institutional’ homophobia and transphobia.
There were several investigations where we have deep reservations about the way in which the identity of the victim informed investigative decisions at the time. We also found evidence of inappropriate attitudes to the circumstances of some murders.
The reports quick to note, however, that Scotland Yard has made improvements in recent years. Still, there’s more work to be done, including getting a better grasp on gay culture.
For example, the report cites the case of Colin Ireland, who killed a number of S&M-involved men back in 1993. Had police better understood gay culture – and S&M culture specifically – they may have helped prevent a fourth murder:
The review finds that the inquiry was “hampered by a lack of knowledge of the gay scene in London and the special culture of S&M bondage. In particular, valuable time was lost before the police managed to recognise two common threads to the crimes. These links were established only after the death of the fourth victim.”
As in the Canadian cases, the report asserts that it’s far more important to prevent the crimes than to improve investigative procedure. Police are urged to issue more public warnings – such as advising gay men to avoid dangerous cruising areas – as well as develop more effective ways of monitoring and tracking known homophobes.