LESS than five per cent of all sexual orientation hate crimes led to a charge or summons last year, shocking new figures have revealed.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show there 701 sexual orientation hate crimes recorded by South Yorkshire Police last year - many of which came across Barnsley.

Of those, just 29 - the equivalent to four per cent - had led to a charge or summons.

At least nine per cent of the incidents were dropped because a suspect could not be identified, and the victim did not support any further action being taken against the alleged perpetrator.

A further 111, or 16 per cent, were closed due to evidential difficulties despite a suspect being identified and the victim supporting action.

Data from the 32 forces across England and Wales that provided information on investigation outcomes shows only 1,648 - nine per cent - of the 17,824 offences recorded in 2021 led to a charge or summons.

Forces were asked to provide the number of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation, and the investigation outcomes, for each of the last five years.

While some offences may have still been under investigation at the time of the request, the landscape of low charge rates is reflected across the country.

Robbie de Santos, the director of communications at LGBT charity Stonewall, said the police must do more to investigate the crimes and improve the low number of charges.

He added that society must also do more to combat ‘anti-LGBTQ+ violence and call out abuse and harassment wherever we see it’.

“But we also need a greater commitment from the police to take decisive action to follow up and investigate these offences,” he said.

It comes just weeks after the Chronicle revealed hate crimes, which have increased by almost a fifth in recent months, will be prioritised by the police due to reports no reaching a five-year high.

Between April and June, complaints relating to hate crime - which includes racial slurs to derogatory remarks about sexual orientation - rocketed by 16 per cent from 162 to 188, continuing its year-on-year rise.

According to figures obtained by the Chronicle, 58.8 per cent of reports lodged with Barnsley officers related to race, with disability accounting for 21 per cent and 15.6 per cent owing to sexual orientation.

In South Yorkshire, sexual orientation-motivated hate crimes rose by 46 per cent from 535 in 2020/21 to 780 in 2021/22.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government takes all forms of hate crime seriously, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes.

“We expect the police to fully investigate these hateful attacks and make sure the cowards who commit them feel the full force of the law.”