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'Great idea' to record LGBTQ domestic abuse

BYOU+ managing director Zak Bretherton
BYOU+ managing director Zak Bretherton
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A borough organisation has applauded a police decision to record domestic abuse in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

BYOU+, which supports LGBTQ+ people in the borough, spoke one year after Greater Manchester Police (GMP) took the pioneering step.

Lyndsey Vaux

Lyndsey Vaux

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More than 700 incidents have been logged by the police since code D66 was introduced and the last 12 months has also seen Platt Bridge killer Becky Reid jailed for murdering her lover Lyndsey Vaux in a case which shocked the borough.

Police worked with specialist trainers, support service Independent Choices and the LGBT Foundation on the code and say it has had a huge impact on the lives of victims across the region.

BYOU+ managing director Zak Bretherton, who is also a co-founder of Wigan Pride, said it was crucial LGBTQ+ issues were taken seriously.

In an indication of the gravity of the issue, the organisation has been working on learning lessons from horrifying cases where people in the borough have died at the hands of their partners.

Mr Bretherton said: “I was delighted that GMP took steps to include LGBTQ+ relationships when recording domestic abuse.

“One year on, I believe the reporting of domestic abuse within the LGBTQ+ community will have improved as a benefit of this.

“It will be interesting to look at a year-on -year development to look at how domestic abuse within the LGBTQ+ community can be tackled.

“Domestic abuse is an issue that I’m really passionate about challenging. Unfortunately I’ve supported two LGBT domestic homicide review cases with Wigan Safeguarding Adult Board within the past year, which is evidence of the seriousness of domestic abuse within Wigan borough alone.

“LGBTQ+ relationships deserve to be recognised equally. Domestic abuse is a serious issue regardless of sexuality and gender identity.

“However, this will previously have been unrecorded and as a minority. Visibility is important. I encourage all services to look at ways they can be more inclusive, be this race, gender, sexuality, religion or language.”

Mr Bretherton said the LGBTQ+ community faces some of the same problems as wider society, such as more women being victims of domestic abuse and men feeling a stigma around reporting it.

When the D66 code was introduced LGBTQ+ groups said it was a step towards repairing historically-difficult relationships between the community and the police, and Mr Bretherton said improvements were ongoing.

He said: “I applaud the recent efforts of GMP and the work they’re doing to support the LGBTQ+ community.

“Last year marked 50 years since the partial decriminalisation and it’s evident that GMP have made a huge change.

“The relationship between GMP and some communities might not be the best but we all have a role building the bridges and looking at how we can make positive change.”

Officers are being trained to be able to support anyone affected by domestic abuse while GMP’s Sitting Right With You campaign aims to tackle issues of violence, control and coercion in the home.

Det Supt Denise Worth from GMP said: “These figures are a positive step in supporting victims and ensuring they are signposted to the right services that are then able to provide appropriate care.

“The D66 coding is a simple process which enables us to identify the community affected and provide local authorities with latest figures which allows them to commission relevant services to support victims.

“Our findings and processes have also been shared nationally and we hope this will assist other forces in adopting their own practices to help those victims.”

LGBTQ+ charities and support services have also praised the D66 code.