When River was subjected to threat of violence, rape, consistently verbally abused, falsely accused of being a paedophile and had an armed mob outside their home threatening their mum, and grandma with dementia, Humberside Police failed to act effectively and left river feeling despondent, vulnerable. Humberside Police failed River, and without an open investigation into cultures within Humberside Police, they will continue to fail the LGBTQIA+ community. With Rivers permission, we decided to publish this story exactly as we received it, in Rivers words.
Please use discretion when reading this story, as the subject matter is very disturbing and the words used include slurs.
When discussing interactions with the police, river explained the following.
I- A police sergeant arriving at our home and asking me if I had been called a "fucking tranny" by a suspect (actually using this transphobic language).
II- The same sergeant suggested that my mum and I should travel miles to different areas in order to avoid harassment on afternoon walks - as if walking the streets of our own community was the problem. They even suggested we move house. As if the harassment was just a burden and a nuisance to the police.
III- The inspector for the same sergeant suggested that I should "not react" to having transphobic slurs or "paedophile" shouted at me in the street. I felt I was expected to "walk on eggshells" just to be taken seriously as a victim. The idea that we should "not react" was a running theme of victim blaming in the police response.
IV- Being told I had been sexually harassed because my clothing was too flamboyant and drew attention to my penis/crotch area, being told "you shouldn't go near the school in leggings" (as if I looked like a paedophile). In hindsight I feel this was a homophobic/transphobic sentiment about me wearing bright coloured clothing.
V- On one occasion a large group of youths and anti-paedophile vigilantes gathered outside of our house, armed with weapons and trying to break in. We rang 999 three times begging for an emergency response for half an hour but there was none. When we chased them away from our property which they were vandalising, terrifying my grandmother, we were told we should have just stayed in the house and not given the mob "the reaction they wanted". An officer told my mum that she must have "looked ridiculous" and that "all of us at the station were laughing about it" and imagined my mum "looking like Katie Price (Jordan) in high heeled boots". My mum located where this gang was hanging out and the police could have caught them but still nobody arrived. My mum caught all of this on a body-worn camera with clear facial images of the youths and adults but the police said they didn't want it (however months later community cohesion claimed the video evidence).
VI- Following our very first report regarding transphobic hate crimes, the community police did not respond at all and left it for the local secondary school (which the youths involved attended) to deal with. Two weeks after the first incident we were again attacked by a gang of these same youths who shouted transphobic slurs and issued death threats and rape threats. When we arrived home we rang 999 but there was no police response at all. Two weeks later we received a phone call from an officer who was dismissive, saying "it was all done and dusted with the school" and used misogynistic language, saying "it's another hashtag MeToo". Another said that a criminal investigation would "spoil" the community police's "friendship with the school" which included taking cupcakes and having coffee and biscuits with the staff. Another said "it's just lads having a laugh" (when they shouted "fucking tranny" at me in the street). It was only until community cohesion intervened that the hate crimes started being taken more seriously.
VII- The assailants involved in the hate crimes and stalking used mobile phones to coordinate it but as I know the police never seized phones containing evidence which may have also linked adults to the crimes. They also failed to gather CCTV when there were cameras visible during the first incident we reported. There were no appeals for witnesses either.
I should explain that our issues with hate crime continued until about a year ago when community cohesion based in Hull and our local authority (ERYC) installed a dome CCTV camera outside of our property. This captured gangs of youths loitering outside, shouting abuse ("tranny", "paedophile" etc) and hammering on front windows to intimidate us - from the early morning to the evenings which made our lives a misery. They even videoed through the front windows, spied on me and crept around the back garden while I was showering (which I reported as a sexual offence).
During one incident a mob of about 20 arrived masked up knowing the CCTV was there. I suspect they wanted to lure me out of the house to assault me (but given the Brianna Ghey case they possibly planned worse, considering they carried weapons before). We rang 999 but the police were too slow to arrive to catch them at the scene. It seemed that once perpetrators were identified a new batch were enlisted to get revenge and continue the harassment. Adults showed up to harass us as well.
This eventually led to an incident where my mum and I were stalked and followed to a different town (Cottingham) and threatened with serious violence (including from adults) which led to me suffering a seizure (I'm epileptic) and head injuries, which resulted in an ambulance callout and needing to see a neurologist and have a CT scan for possible brain injuries. The perpetrators continued threatening me even while I was fitting on the ground and videoed this to share on social media, falsely identifying me a paedophile. Experienced officers told us they were shocked and disturbed by the severity of this crime and that the perpetrators were so young. I am glad to say many members of the public came to our assistance and called 999. I became so hyper-vigilant and afraid to go outside that I developed a vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight.
It was these incidents that prompted detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department at Clough Road to contact us which was reassuring. However, we would have made no progress if we relied on the ineffectual community police whose attitudes excused the hate crime. It took outside intervention to make any difference, particularly from community cohesion who were well-trained to support LGBTQ+ victims of hate crime. Due to arson threats we were also visited by Hull Fire & Rescue who were extremely supportive.
While not all our police interactions were negative, they were extremely inconsistent and I will not be confident contacting Humberside Police if I am a victim again in the future. I am wary that I may be subjected to the same kind of prejudicial and victim blaming attitudes as before regarding my daily routine, style of dress, appearance, "reactions" to verbal abuse etc. I should not feel like a criminal or face interrogation just for existing as a LGBTQ+ person in public.
Rivers story is heartbreaking, but really goes to show how serious the situation is, coupled with responses to our HU2HU survey, it is extremely clear that there is an issue with transphobia, victim blaming, and misogyny within the Humberside Police.
Victims of crime like this won’t feel comfortable, safe, or respected when reporting these crimes, because as River’s story demonstrates, they are not given the respect and dignity they deserve by Humberside Police officers.
We continue to call for a full investigation, or ‘Casey Style Review’ of Humberside Police, specifically the cultures at work in the force.
Nobody else should have to suffer what River was put through.
You can help us in this campaign by contacting your local councillor and MP, to ask them to read River's story and decide for themselves whether or not there is a culture problem within Humberside Police.