An annual police operation is back under way to fight homophobic crime.

Sussex Police is targeting patrols at areas such as Kemp Town in Brighton to crack down on crimes against the gay community.

Operation Reagan is running across Brighton and Hove, after police reported a 8% fall in hate crimes over the last year.

Police include homophobic abuse, theft and assault among the crimes, receiving 230 reports in the last 12 months, compared with 251 the previous year.

Nick Antjoule the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual liaison officer for Sussex Police’s Brighton and Hove division, said: “Summer is when the city comes to life for many residents.

“Our aim is to create an environment where people can enjoy being out in Brighton without living in fear.

“Operation Reagan was first set up to deal with incidents in a small area but now encompasses the whole city.

“Over the years it has been a vital tool in preventing offenders from targeting vulnerable people.”

Police estimate the LGBT population of the city at 35,000, rising in holiday periods.

The summer operation runs alongside Operation Columbus, to combat crimes against foreign students in the city.

Police are urging the public to contact them if they are aware of hate crime problems.

Mr Antjoule said: “We can do this most effectively with the support of the public.

“Every report is important and helps us work with the community to keep the city safe.”

The Brighton and Hove LGBT Switchboard has launched an independent hate crime information, support and reporting service on 01273 204050, with trained call-takers who can receive reports anonymously and pass them to police if callers want them to.

Alternatively, people can call Sussex Police directly on 0845 6070999, or in an emergency 999, or for advice and support you contact Mr Antjoule on 07799 347114 or email ''.