PEOPLE across Hartlepool are being urged to have their say after an inquiry was set up to tackle hate crime.
A hate crime is any crime which is targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards that person’s disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
The issue is being examined over the next four months by Hartlepool Council’s Audit & Governance Committee, which wants to assess the level and impact of hate crime in Hartlepool, how it is currently dealt with and how that can be improved.
‘Creating confident, cohesive and safe communities’ is one of the key aims of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, of which the council is a member, and one of its routes to achieving this is improving reporting and recording of hate crimes and the response to victims.
This also reflects the results of recent public consultation to draw up Hartlepool’s Community Safety Plan.
Residents said various actions were needed to tackle hate crime, including making people more confident about reporting it and ensuring that there is ample specialist support for victims.
As part of its investigation, the Audit & Governance Committee is asking local people to complete an online survey to say whether or not they have experienced hate crime and, if so, to share their experience of it.
Also, printed questionnaires are being sent out to community groups
Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the Audit & Governance Committee, said: “Hate crime destroys lives and we want to find out what incidents there have been in Hartlepool.
“Hate crimes are not always reported to the police and we are keen to learn why this is, and to hear what people think would make it easier for victims of such incidents to have the confidence to report them.
“During our inquiry we will be talking to a wide range of interested parties including community and support groups and the police.
“A key part of our investigation is the online survey, and I hope as many people as possible will complete it – I can reassure them that they are not required to identify themselves and all the responses will be completely anonymous.”
The committee will consider the results of its investigation and make any recommendations at a meeting in February next year.
The survey can be completed online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/HBC-HateCrime-2014 and the closing date is Friday, December 19.
For more information about the investigation please contact the council’s Scrutiny Manager Joan Stevens on (01429) 284142.