PRESS RELEASE 23/11/16
The verdict is being returned in the trial of Stephen Port today. In October 2015 police arrested Stephen Port for the alleged murder of four young men in Barking. The deaths happened over a 15-month period from June 2014 to September 2015. Port faced 29 charges for a range of offences including murder, manslaughter, poisoning, rape and other sexual offences, taking place between 2011 and 2015. Port denied all the charges. Following publicity about Port’s arrest, a number of men came forward to disclose rape and sexual assault by Port, eight of whom later gave evidence in court.
In response to the verdict, Galop Chief Executive Nik Noone provided the following statement:
Our thoughts are with the friends and families of the young men who tragically lost their lives, the survivors that have come forward and those who are affected by the issues raised in this case.
Galop’s priority over these last few months has been supporting the investigation and members of our community who have been affected by the issues in this case. We are pleased that Stephen Port has been found guilty and that no more young men will be a victim of his terrible crimes.
Our focus now turns to understanding what lessons need to be learnt from the police response to unexplained deaths and sexual assault of young men and what must be done to learn how to prevent someone like Port in the future.
In October 2014 acting on community intelligence Galop contacted the Metropolitan Police Service and shared information that suggested the deaths might not have been the result of overdose / suicide. This case has raised questions about how effectively the police respond to community intelligence.
Galop believes there are key gaps in understanding the needs of LGBT victims of sexual violence, these include:
- The gender of the victims / survivors is significant and we need greater awareness in both statutory services and the LGBT community that GBT men, especially young men, are at risk of sexual assault, exploitation and grooming.
- LGBT victims/survivors of sexual violence face additional barriers to seeking help and reporting to the police. They may be hesitant to disclose their identity and the circumstances within which they were sexually assaulted and they may lack confidence that the police or support services will respond in an informed and effective way. The role of LGBT specialist sexual violence advocates in enabling LGBT people to get informed support and report to the police if they want to is vital.
It is vital that LGBT victims of violence and abuse feel able to report and have access to appropriate support. There is work to be done to remove barriers to reporting, to raise awareness and understanding of the issues affecting our community and to build trust and confidence that those charged with responsibility to protect our safety will do so effectively.
Nik Noone, CEO, & Catherine Bewley, Head of Sexual Violence Service
020 7704 6767
LGBT people who have experienced any kind of abuse or violence, however and wherever it happened, or who are affected by the issues around the trial, can contact Galop for confidential support and advice on 0207 704 2040 or email@example.com or via www.galop.org.uk.