A Metropolitan Police LGBT+ liaison officer has said support in finding the suspect responsible for the “dreadful” Clapham double stabbing has been “incredible”.
Shortly after 10pm on Sunday (13 August), in what the Met is treating as a homophobic attack, two victims, aged in their 20s and 30s, were assaulted by a man with a knife while standing outside LGBTQ+ bar the Two Brewers in south London.
Do you know this man? If so, the Met want to hear from you. (Met Police)
PC Hayley Jones – the dedicated LGBT+ Community Liaison Officer (CLO) for Lambeth and Southwark – told PinkNews: “The stabbings thankfully weren’t fatal or life threatening, but they absolutely could’ve been. I’ve seen the CCTV footage and it’s a dreadful attack.”
Jones, who identifies as pansexual, said she has been “inundated” with phone calls in a show of “incredible” support from the LGBTQ+ community, who have “come together” in a bid to help the investigation.
The 35-year-old said being part of the community in her role allows her to speak on behalf of the Met and the community.
“It’s important to me to meet people on a personal level and be fully transparent in what I’m doing.”
Jones works alongside other PCs, a sergeant, and the Clapham Warden Patrol – which work with the *Hub Safe Haven *Does this refer to the Clapham Night Hub?* to patrol the High Street and surrounding areas on Friday and Saturday nights between 9pm and 5am – to ensure area is constantly monitored.
PC Hayley Jones is a LGBT+ Community Liaison Officer (CLO) for Lambeth and Southwark. (PinkNews)
Since the homophobic attack, Jones said she has attended all of the queer venues in the area and taken part in reassurance patrols to show “there is someone you can come and speak to”.
Referencing the Met’s botched investigation of serial killer Stephen Port, who murdered four young gay men: Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor, Jones said her role was established because of the failings in the case and she is “an extra person” to identify any similar issues in future.
The Met’s response to the homophobic attacks in Clapham is crucial in helping to rebuild their reputation following historic tensions with the LGBT+ community.
During the Stephen Port investigation, the victims’ families repeatedly raised serious concerns about police homophobia, and subsequently described the investigation as “one of the most widespread institutional failures in modern history.” In December 2021, an inquest jury found a “large number of very serious and very basic investigative failings” in the Metropolitan police investigations into the deaths of the four men.
In the wake of the inquest, a group of MPs called for a public enquiry into claims of institutional homophobia in the Met and Dame Margaret Hodge along with 17 other signatories wrote to the former Met commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to “demand a public inquiry considers whether the Met is institutionally homophobic.”
While the Met’s then assistant commissioner Helen Ball apologised for “all sorts of errors in the investigations which came together in a truly dreadful way”, she said of the botched investigation “we don’t see institutional homophobia, we don’t see homophobia on the part of the officers.”
Earlier this year, an independent inspection into the Stephen Port case by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that although there was a “calamitous litany of failures” in the police investigation, it as “impossible” to establish whether homophobia played a part in the Met’s failure to properly investigate the deaths of Walgate, Kovari, Whitworth and Taylor.
In response to these blistering criticisms, the Met has introduced a number of initiatives to improve diversity in the force and rebuild public trust.
For example, the Met announced in June that it was restoring full-time LGBT+ liaison officers as a “crucial part of the mission for more trust” within the queer community, an announcement that followed current commissioner Mark Rowley admission of “failings of the past” after being urged to apologise to the community by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
Gay man Ariel Klusner-Stern was the victim of a homophobic assault in Clapham before the August stabbings outside the Two Brewers. (PinkNews)
Gay man Ariel Klusner-Stern, who was assaulted in a homophobic hate crime on Clapham High Street in February – which resulted in him being punched in the face hospitalised – said the recent stabbings are “very shaking”.
The 36-year-old, who lives in Clapham, said: “Clapham is so known for its inclusivity, I describe it to people as the gaybourhood.”
“The Two Brewers is an institute for the gay community and to have something like this happen right in the middle is horrible.”
He said PC Jones, who he met at the Two Brewers while she was taking part in a police meeting regarding safety and an “increase of homophobic attacks”, helped him to investigate his own case and was “very supportive”.
Klusner-Stern highlighted that tackling LGBTQ+ hate crime isn’t just down to police and should be a “collaborative” responsibility including the businesses too.
‘Clapham is meant to be a safe space for gay people’
Kim Scott lives on Clapham High Street and said the stabbings outside the Two Brewers were “frightening”. (PinkNews)
Kim Scott, who lives on Clapham High Street, found out about the incident on Monday (14 August) through social media.
The 27-year-old, who says she has lots of gay friends, told PinkNews: “It’s so frightening. We used to go to Two Brewers often.
“It’s more my friends I feel sad for because Clapham is meant to be a safe space for gay people.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see people feeling too scared to wear what they want. It’s devastating.”.
Scott said police presence in the area has been visible during the day, easing the worry of those in Clapham.
The Met Police appeal for witnesses to the double stabbing in Clapham has been put on the window the Two Brewers in Clapham. (PinkNews)
A police report published in 2022, showed reports of homophobic hate crimes more than doubled in five years, shooting from 10,003 in 2016-17 to 26,824 in 2021-22.
Anyone with information is asked to call the police on 101 or tweet @MetCC, quoting CAD 7198/13Aug, or anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. PC Jones can be called on 07825101104 or by email at Hayley.Jones@met.police.uk.