Charlie Cressey opened up about the moment he was targeted with homophobic abuse while volunteering (Envato Elements)
A gay volunteer has opened up about the horrific moment he tried to help an “intoxicated” man, but was met with a torrent of homophobic abuse.
Charlie Cressey, from Hove, spoke about his experience as part of Sussex Police’s Hate Crime Awareness Week campaign.
Cressey was volunteering for a beach patrol team, which aims to help vulnerable people, in May of this year when the incident occurred.
He and another volunteer approached an intoxicated man and asked if he needed help – but the man quickly became aggressive and began shouting homophobic slurs at Cressey.
The man was subsequently arrested on a homophobic-aggravated public order offence, and he was later issued with a community resolution which required him to write a 500-word letter of apology to his victim.
He also made a donation of £60 to the Brighton Beach Patrol group that Cressey was volunteering for when the incident occurred.
Gay volunteer Charlie Cressey urged hate crime victims to report incidents to police.
“This experience has helped me realise that any form of hate crime is not acceptable and people do not have to be living with the fear of being a victim of it,” Cressey said in a statement.
“There are so many people that will look out for you if you speak out. For myself, Sussex Police was a great supporting helped me through it all.”
Rachel Swinney, Sussex Police’s hate crime lead, said hate crime is “damaging, disrepsectful and creates fear and humiliation”.
“This can impact not only on those directly exposed to it, but also the wider community,” she said.
“It’s not okay to be targeted because of who you are, or because of who people think you are. If you have been a victim of hate crime, remember it is not your fault and help is available. By reporting to us, you may be able to prevent it from happening again to yourself or to another.”
The rate of homophobic hate crimes in the UK has trebled in the last five years, according to figures obtained by the BBC on Friday (10 October).
This experience has helped me realise that any form of hate crime is not acceptable and people do not have to be living with the fear of being a victim of it.
Police reports of homophobic hate crimes have increased by 20 per cent in the last year alone.
While police told the BBC that the increase could be a result of more reporting, LGBT+ advocates said that the rise in hate crime was a real increase in attacks, and reports were the “tip of the iceberg”.
Deputy chief constable Julie Cooke, the LGBT+ lead at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, told the BBC: “I could come up with lots of examples where we are getting it right.
“But I absolutely take seriously where we don’t. And we need to make sure that we improve and learn from those times when we’ve not done it right,” she said.
“It is hugely underreported. And so please do come forward. And if you’re not getting the right response that you would expect, please make sure that you tell us about that.”