Cumbria Police team of 20 tackles homophobic hate crime
A police force has assigned a team of 20 officers to tackle homophobic hate crime and give victims extra support.
Last year Cumbria Police dealt with almost 40 hate crimes against homosexual and transgender people. The force believes many more go unreported.
To encourage victims to come forward it has assigned a team of specially-trained liaison officers.
They will deal with victims as well as their other general police duties.
Deputy Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said: "We know that homophobic and transgender hate crime is often vastly under-reported and we hope that lesbian and gay liaison officers will help us to address this.
"We don't believe that there is a big issue with this kind of crime in Cumbria - however, these low numbers of reports suggest that victims may not be contacting us, which causes us concern.
"The most important thing is we don't want victims to suffer in silence. We need them to come forward, confide in us and we will do everything possible to ensure offenders are prosecuted so they won't be targeted again."