Deputy chief constable Julie Cooke said the idea was to try and give confidence to the LGBT+ community.
Police are painting the sides of their squad cars in rainbow colors to 'give confidence' to the LGBT+ community, in the UK. Cops have introduced “hate crime cars” in the hope it will encourage marginalized people, primarily the LGBT+ community, to report incidents such as offensive social media comments. "Cars are there in the communities on normal policing patrol just to show the community that we want you to come forward," said Deputy chief constable Julie Cooke, reported LBC. "It is there to try and give confidence to our LGBT+ community, but also to other under-represented groups."
According to Stonewall, 80 percent of LGBT+ people don’t report hate crimes to the authorities. Cooke is hoping this small step of painting rainbow colors on 'hate crime cars' will encourage the community to come forward when they are subject to hate or persecuted. “They get all the police insignia put on them as normal, but there will be normally something added on that is to do with the rainbow side of things,” said Cooke, reported Pink News. She believes the small act can have a huge impact. “Actually the cost is quite minimal but the confidence that it can bring by just having that rainbow on there… and people say to me the impact of seeing the rainbow is so huge,” said Cooke.
"The idea is that the car is there in the community, generally on normal policing patrol, just to show the community that we want you to come forward. If something is happening that you know isn’t right we absolutely want you to come forward," said Cooke, before adding, "It is there to give confidence to our LGBT+ community, but also to other underrepresented groups.”
Many criticized the cops for not dealing with "real issues." Harry Miller, a former cop told the Telegraph, 'We don't see the Met with special cars for knife crime, even though the number of stabbings in London is appalling. The problem is that the second that you see a rainbow car, you know that it is a police force that has made its mind up about some very contentious issues. You no longer see a police car or a police officer who is there to support everyone, from all political persuasions, without fear or favor. They have literally tied their colors to the mast and painted their cars with their political leanings." The LGBT+ rainbow symbol is not a political leaning but a fight for the community's rights.
Julie Cooke also added that she always wears a rainbow tag so that people know she's an ally and they can reach out to her. "I wear this all the time," says Cooke in a video posted on Instagram. "I'm not part of the LGBT community. If we walk into a room, we [normally] do a quick scan of who's there and if you see something you can relate to, then you think: 'You know what, that person might be supportive.' It makes such a big difference to them. They are more confident to be themselves and are happier to be in that room, to be amongst people who will support them."
“Tackling hate crime is a priority for policing, however, this does not detract from the service to victims of other crime types and anyone who has been a victim of crime should report it to the police,” said Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton. In 2018, the FBI’s latest Hate Crime Statistics revealed that 1 in 5 hate crimes in America stemmed from anti-LGBTQ bias, reported NBC News. Of the 7,120 hate crime incidents reported, more than 1,300 were hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.
If you're queer and are being subjected to abuse, or need any help, please contact LGBT National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564.