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Four men in the U.K. were quickly arrested just hours after they allegedly engaged in a hate-related sexual assault against a young woman last night.
West Midlands Police arrested the four men, aged 18 to 22, after they were allegedly observed via CCTV assaulting a young woman in her 20s around 5:30 a.m. yesterday morning on Hurst Street in Birmingham's Gay District. According to police, the unnamed victim was verbally and physically assaulted at knifepoint.
"We do not tolerate hate crime in our city and have recently set up a new StreetWatch in Birmingham's Gay Village - the first of its kind in the country," West Midland Police said in a statement.
Police said they were able to quickly track down the men once an official police report was filed an hour later.
"Our CCTV operators spotted the suspicious activity and when the crime was reported almost an hour later, they were able to back-track on the CCTV and direct officers to the suspects," West Midlands Police posted to Facebook.
Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ have risen more than 200 percent between 2014 and 2021. The number is probably higher, but 90 percent of LGBTQ+ hate crime victims in the U.K. do not report the crimes to the police.
A queer couple was attacked in the same area in August 2021 by a group of men who threw bottles and physically assaulted the pair. The couple, identified only as Rob and Patrick, were outside a bar in the Gay Village when authorities said a black SUV pulled up and men got out and started attacking them. The attack left the two men, both in their 30s, bloodied and cut. Patrick was knocked unconscious.
Last year during Pride month, a man in Liverpool was verbally harassed and then hit multiple times in the face by another man, which resulted in severe facial injuries and bruises to the victim's body, according to a news release by Merseyside Police, which is Liverpool's local police department.
"It's extremely disappointing that during Pride Month, when we are celebrating tolerance in our communities, a man appears to have been targeted because of his sexuality. To be attacked in such a manner is despicable, and we're determined to find those responsible and remove them from our streets," detective Tony Roberts said in the release.
The Rainbow Street Watch program is made up of local people and volunteers who patrol the areas around Hurst Street in Birmingham, looking to report crimes and incidents involving members of the LGBTQ+ community in the area.
West Midlands Police said the four men allegedly responsible for yesterday's attack remain in custody for questioning and further investigation of the incident.