Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels
Hertfordshire police are investigating a suspected homophobic attack against two teenagers who were attacked in Market Square in Hitchin.
The attack happened at around 7:45pm on Friday 13 August when the victims - a girl aged 17 and a woman aged 19 - were approached by five people who subjected them to verbal abuse before physically assaulting them.
Both victims were kicked and punched and had their phones and purses stolen from them. They were later taken to hospital for treatment.
“An unprovoked homophobic attack”
Police have described the suspects as being white teenagers. One is reported to have curly brown hair and was wearing black basketball shorts and a white t-shirt. Two others were wearing black hooded tops and black shorts.
In a statement, Detective Constable Rebecca Robinson said: “This was an unprovoked homophobic attack which left the victims needing hospital treatment.
“I would appeal to anyone who was in the town centre last night and who saw what happened or who has any information about the incident to please contact us.”
Anyone with information can report it online at herts.police.uk/report, or via web chat at herts.police.uk/contact. People can also call the non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference 41/62451/21, or the independent charity, Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.
A similar attack took place in another part of Hertfordshire just a few days earlier, in Bishop’s Stortford. In that incident, two men were attacked by a group of 10 people outside a Waitrose. One of the victims was knocked unconscious and both required hospital treatment.
The Home Office has reported that incidents of LGBTQ hate crime increased in England and Wales by 19% between 2019 and 2020, with 15,835 cases, and that transgender hate crimes rose by 16% to 2,540.
In Scotland, there was a 30% increase in hate crimes regarding sexual orientation between 2014-15 and 2019-20 - with 1,314 incidents recorded last year compared to 1,010 in 2014-15.
In Northern Ireland, police have reported a sharp increase in LGBTQ hate crime incidents between 2020 and 2021, which are now at the highest level since data began being collected in 2004. Between April 2020 and March 2021 there were 366 homophobic incidents.
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