POLICE investigations into homophobic crimes are being scrutinised by a special panel.
The aim of the independent Homophobic Independent Scrutiny Panel in Kirklees is to review the cases once the police inquiry has been carried out, to improve the confidence of the public in reporting homophobic offences.
The move follows the establishment of the Racist Scrutiny Panel two years ago, which has improved police investigations and the support of victims.
Javier Santana-Acosta, strategic diversity officer for Kirklees Safer Communities Partnership, said: "The panel ensures officers deal with incidents sensitively, speedily and properly.
"Feedback is provided to them where appropriate."
A homophobic crime is when a person believes they have been bullied, attacked, harassed or called names because they are, or are thought to be, lesbian, gay, transvestite, transsexual, transgender or bisexual.
The catch-all abbreviation is LGBT.
Mr Santana-Acosta added: "The panel reflects the changes in attitudes within the police and their willingness to work with LGBT people.
"The panel could not have been created without the commitment of the local LGBT community."
The panel is made up of eight volunteers from the LGBT community.
It meets twice-yearly and reviews homophobic incidents once a police investigation is completed, but before it is finalised.
It reviews about 10 cases a year.
Mr Santana-Acosta added: "This number may seem low, but reflects the current level of reporting.
"If there is an increase in the number of cases, then more frequent meetings are envisaged."
Members look at reports relating to the incident, ask questions about the process, seek additional information where required and ensure that appropriate support is offered to the victim.
A case is only closed when it has been reviewed by the panel and it is satisfied with the police investigation and that all action has been taken.
The police divisional commander looks at any recommendations from the panel before the case is finalised.
The details are formally recorded and support and crime prevention advice offered to the crime victim.
Anyone wanting more information should phone Mr Santana-Acosta on 01484 416295 or email Javier.Santana-Acosta@kirklees.gov.uk