The number of homophobic crimes recorded in Southwark nearly doubled last year, with an equality charity warning that the problem could be even greater due to unreported incidents.
While 2013 saw just 41 such crimes across the borough, last year there were 81 – a total of one every four-and-a-half days.
The real extent of Southwark’s problem, however, is blurred by the fact that many victims choose not to report incidents to the police, according to a spokeswoman for diversity campaign group, METRO.
She said: “There are many reasons why people don’t report these crimes. It may be that they don’t feel confident that anything will happen or they may be ashamed.
“They’re living in fear and it impacts where they live and whether they feel safe at home.”
Younger victims are especially reluctant, with a national study conducted by the group last year showing that 88% of 16-to-25-year-old LGBT people do not report these crimes to the police.
She added: “Some of the things that happen in school would be crimes if they happened on the street.”
The organisation, along with other London-based LBGT groups such as Stonewall, is urging victims to come forward and report all instances of homophobic crime.
Homophobic crimes are defined as any offence which specifically targets lesbian, gay or bisexual people, both verbal and physical.
The Metropolitan Police are also appealing for victims to come forward and utilise the capital’s specialist hate crime units, which includes 500 dedicated hate crime investigators.
A spokesperson said: “If anyone feels that they are the victim of hate crime, we would urge all victims to come forward and report any incident or crime as soon as possible.
“We are always seeking ways to increase reporting and work with a number of third party reporting sites, so that victims who would otherwise feel unable to approach police direct can report crime to non-police organisations and individuals.”
Anyone with any information regarding hate crime should contact their local police station using the non-emergency 101 number.
Overall crime has fallen
However, crime dropped in Southwark last year at a higher rate than almost any other London borough, with 7.5% fewer offences committed in 2014.
Only Westminster and Waltham Forest saw greater reductions.
Robberies in particular saw huge declines with 1000 fewer incidents, while burglary numbers also dropped considerably.
While there were still three incidents a week, gun crime also dropped compared in 2013.
Yet, there was a definite rise in sexual assaults, with total incidents rising by nearly a quarter to 581.
Racist and religious hate crime also grew, while homophobic crime nearly doubled.