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Camden News - By PAUL KIELTHY
Published: 3 September 2009
Gay attacks on the Heath still going unreported

ANDREW, not his real name, had already been beaten and mugged when he saw his attackers returning along the secluded Hampstead Heath path where he and other gay men were attacked last month.
“I could see their lights coming up the path and hear them abusing people as they came,” he said. “I hid in the ferns, I was frankly terrified, and they shone their torches through the undergrowth. The light was searching for me and they were saying, ‘there’s someone in here’. If they’d shone the torch straight downwards they’d have seen me.”
Andrew was attacked three weeks ago in one of the better-known gay cruising areas of the West Heath, near the Golders Green entrance. He had heard a group of four or five men noisily moving through the park, flashing torches through the scrub, and hid too late behind a tree.
“Their torch picked up my movement and they found me,” said Andrew. “First they said they were undercover police but they clearly weren’t, then they hit me and there was some abuse and they went through my pockets.”
Last week, the New Journal reported on concerns that homophobic crime in Camden is the highest in London. Camden police said that they had received no reports or intelligence of robberies of gay men on the Heath – a picture supported by the Camden Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Forum, whose spokesman said that while some attacks were known of just outside the Heath, the park itself had been quiet.
The report prompted Andrew to get in touch.
“Other gay people I have spoken to said they (masked men) have been up before this summer,” he said.
Andrew had nothing of value when he was attacked and his robbers left him his old and unfashionable mobile phone. But he did not call the police, either at the time or after the attack.
He added: “I am a very private, people don’t know I am gay, so there is still that embarrassment talking to police. I know that they will not investigate it if it isn’t reported but it comes down to trust. There isn’t any trust and when you talk to people this has happened.”
The police urge victims of homophobic crime to report it either directly to them or in confidence through third-party reporting networks including the Camden LGBT forum. Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously 0800 555111.

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IN addition to this, I was a near victim of a carjacking but luckily managed to outrun the three attackers who fled. The Camden LGBT forum have been most helpful in liaising with the police and I would urge all victims to report any incidents to them.


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