POLICE investigating a reported hate crime attack say the incident may have been falsely reported.
Officers issued an appeal after reports two gay women had been beaten up by a 20-strong gang at a Sunderland chip shop.
The crime was alleged to have taken place on Burdon Lane in the city at 9.15pm and was reported as a group of youngsters attacking a female couple and using homophobic language.
Sunderland Superintendent Jim Napier said: “I would like to thank those people who came forward in response to this appeal.
“We carried out extensive enquiries, viewed CCTV and spoke to eye witnesses, some of whom came forward as a result of our appeals in the media.
“As a result of these enquiries it has become clear that this incident may not be as it was first reported to us. However, enquiries are still ongoing.
“It now appears that the incident may revolve around an altercation between the two women.
“In this case it is emerging that the initial report we received was not the whole picture, however this does not change the fact that when we receive a report of a hate crime from a victim, we investigate it fully. We are committed to combatting hate crime.
“Homophobic abuse is a crime and should not be tolerated. I would urge people to report it. We will treat matters sensitively and confidentially.
He added: “We want people to have the confidence to report incidents, safe in the knowledge that we will take their feelings into account and take appropriate action.
“We’re committed to helping victims of this type of crime. Everyone has the right to live their life free from harassment and the fear of crime, this includes hate crime.
“Each of Northumbria Police’s six area commands has a Hate Crime Liaison Officer who monitors hate incidents and at least one Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Liaison Officer who is a point of contact for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.
“We work with members of the LGBT communities to help us recognise and respond to Hate Crime and we are continually working to find ways to improve our service.”
To report hate crime directly to the police contact Northumbria Police on the 101 non-emergency number or in emergency dial 999.