West Yorkshire Police and Police and Crime Commissioner showing their support for LGBT History Month (22 Feb 2016)

West Yorkshire Police is showing its support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month by hosting a dedicated web chat offering the public the opportunity to speak with the Force about LGBT issues.

LGBT History Month aims to promote equality and diversity and celebrate the lives and achievements of lesbian, gay and bisexual and trans communities.

The current 'Hate Hurts' campaign was launched in 2015 to raise awareness of hate crime in conjunction with the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson.

The web chat, 'Policing with Pride' - an opportunity to discuss LGBT issues in policing and LGBT police officer recruitment, is taking place between 7 and 8pm on Wednesday, 24 February.

On-hand to answer questions will be Karen Strapps, the force's Principal Equality and Diversity Officer; and Ben Ryder, Inspector and Chair of the LGBT Network in West Yorkshire Police.

The Force is particularly interested in hearing about any issues around recruitment or volunteer opportunities with West Yorkshire Police, engagement with the LGBT community, and tackling of hate crime and domestic abuse.

West Yorkshire Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins is showing her support for LGBT History month by wearing rainbow laces in her boots. The laces were given to her by the charity Stonewall to help raise awareness about LGBT issues.

West Yorkshire Police Temporary Chief Constable, Dee Collins, said: "This month is all about celebrating the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities.

"As a society, we have come a long way in our understanding and acceptance of all sexual orientations and gender identities, but unfortunately there remains a small minority who think it is acceptable to target someone because of their sexuality or gender identity.

"We launched our hate crime campaign and this centres around the message that being who you are is not a crime and is something you should be proud of. It will not be tolerated for people to target particular individuals because of their perceived differences.

"We are really proud of how much our service on LGBT issues has improved and this web chat will help us get even better in helping people when they need us and making West Yorkshire Police and LGBT employer of choice."

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said "Being targeted because of who you are is a horrible experience that no-one should have to suffer through. I want victims and witnesses of hate crime to feel able to come forward and report it to individuals and organisations they trust, because it is not acceptable in any form. Recent performance figures have shown that victims of hate crime in West Yorkshire were highly satisfied with how the police dealt with their reported incidents.

"I fully support this LGBT web chat which offers a great opportunity to ask questions from the comfort of your own home and anonymously if you wish."

To register for reminders or join the web chat, people can visit: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/LGBTwebchat

Anyone with information about a hate incident is asked to report it either by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency, online at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/hatecrime or www.report-it.org.uk or in person at a police station.

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018