URGENT APPEAL FOR WITNESSES AND INFORMATION

Rainbow Hamlets, the LGBT Community Forum for Tower Hamlets, and the Metropolitan Police are appealing to anyone who has information about the recent Islamist vigilante videos to come forward.

In particular if you are depicted in any of them or know someone who is, or if you know of other related incidents that may have gone unreported, we would like to hear from you.

Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is asked to contact police at Tower Hamlets Community Safety unit. DI Cliff Jones, DS Chris Bagshaw or DC Stacey Yarker can be called on 020 7275 4758 or via 101. They can also be emailed at thcsu@met.police.uk or Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The police have agreed to offer confidentiality.

We appreciate that some people may want to talk this through confidentially before approaching the police, to have support following their experiences or to discuss concerns about issues like safety. Rainbow Hamlets has worked with LGBT community partners GALOP, and recommend people call their confidential community phone line on 020 7704 2040 in operation during office hours, or if preferred email witness@rainbowhamlets.org in confidence at any time. This is service is open to victims of homophobic attack who may not identify as gay or bisexual.

Rainbow Hamlets has again been working closely with the police and the council to ensure all the lessons have been learnt since the ‘gay free zone’ stickers of 2011, and that the concerns of LGBT people are being addressed. Along with the early arrests, we are satisfied that the posting of the videos, and the events depicted within them, are being treated by the police as serious public order offences, with a fully-committed investigation spearheaded by officers in Tower Hamlets. A Gold Group has been formed to provide a channel for both Muslim and LGBT community advice.

We welcome the clear repudiation of this small group by local Muslims organisations and leaders, and by the Muslim Council of Britain. It is important that we do not fall into the trap laid by both the far right and the Islamist faction, by treating these incidents as representative of the wider Muslim community. They are not. We recognise there is still work to do to build understanding between LGBT people and their Muslim neighbours, and we work in partnership with Imaan to build greater awareness of LGBT Muslims experience. Anyone who wishes to get involved pleased contact us atinfo@rainbowhamlets.org

THIS APPEAL IS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD, REDISTRIBUTION OR VIEW AT http://goo.gl/6Z5vr

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Hate crime action plan: Challenge It, Report It, Stop It

‘Challenge It, Report It, Stop It’ is the government’s blueprint to tackle hate crime, bringing together activity by a wide range of government departments – working with local agencies, voluntary organisations and our independent advisory group – to meet three key objectives:

  • preventing hate crime happening by challenging the attitudes and behaviours that foster hatred, and encouraging early intervention to reduce the risk of incidents escalating
  • increasing the reporting of hate crime that occurs by building victims’ confidence to come forward and seek justice, and working with partners at national and local level to ensure the right support is available when they do
  • working with the agencies that make up the Criminal Justice System to improve the operational response to hate crime. We want a more effective end-to-end process, with agencies identifying hate crimes early, managing cases jointly and dealing with offenders robustly

Download The Home Office ‘Challenge It, Report It, Stop It’ action plan (link opens in new window in pdf format)

Man who Sprayed Homophobic Grafitti Sent to Jail

A 23 year old man who sprayed homophobic graffiti over seventy times in a Shadwell housing block has been brought to justice, after Tower Hamlets Council worked in partnership with EastendHomes and the police to identify and prosecute him.

On Friday 10 February at Thames Magsistrates’ Court, Mashudur Rahman was given an eight week custodial sentence for nine counts of criminal damage. He had earlier pleaded guilty to the charges in a hearing at Stratford Magistrates Court on 3 February.

The court heard that Rahman had written homophobic and racist graffiti in Gordon House, Glamis Road, Shadwell E1, numerous times during a six month period between March and his arrest on 28 September last year.

The court also heard a number of witness statements which described the alarm and distress caused by the graffiti, which contained numerous homophobic references

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “The council will continue to work with our partners to bring perpetrators of all hate crimes to justice.”

Cllr Ohid Ahmed, Deputy Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “The actions of this man were despicable and condemnable. The messages of hate that he wrote caused considerable hurt and distress to the residents of Gordon House, and it is right that he has now been punished.”

Paul Bloss Chief Executive of EastendHomes, said: “The successful prosecution in this case is an excellent example of how EastendHomes works in partnership with other agencies such as the police and the council to rid the estate of this unacceptable type of behaviour”

DC Simon Fields, the police investigating officer, said: “Many people were involved in the investigation of this offence, including the local Safer Neighbourhood Team. It is a measure of how seriously we take Hate Crime that the perpetrator was identified and convicted and the sentence sends a clear warning that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated”.

Jack Gilbert, Co-chair of Rainbow Hamlets, the LGBT Forum for Tower Hamlets,said: “We welcome this conviction. In particular we are pleased that the Court recognised that these were offences motivated by hatred of LGBT people and reflected that in its sentence. This sends a clear message: Homophobic crime in Tower Hamlets will not be tolerated.

“Offences like these cause considerable worry and distress to LGBT people and could well encourage others if not addressed swiftly. We are obviously concerned that the incidents took place so frequently and over so long a period. We will be inviting East End Homes, the police and the council to participate in a review of the case to ensure better practices are put in place for the future.”

The case was brought to court after officers from EastendHomes, which manages Gordon House, received reports of the offensive graffiti from residents. In response EEH carried out an initial investigation to gather witness statements and photos of the graffiti.

The case was then passed to Tower Hamlets Council’s Community Safety Service, who gathered video footage and stills of the perpetrator carrying out his crimes.

The complete package of evidence was then passed to Shadwell police Safer Neighbourhoods Team, who identified Rahman and progressed prosecution with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Source: News Distribution Service