A POLICE and crime boss has backed a bid to raise awareness of hate crime.
Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger has pledged his support to National Hate Crime Awareness week, which begins tomorrow, on Saturday, October 11.
Last year there were only 23 reports of disability hate crime incidents throughout the Cleveland Police force area.
But officers support charities believe victims are not coming forward, either because they are scared or that they are not aware incidents are classed as hate crime and can be reported to the police.
In June, Barry Coppinger launched the first training event for community ambassadors who help to report and identify hate crime across Teesside.
The network of hate crime reporting champions help the drive to raise awareness of the issue and increase reporting to truly reflect what is happening on the streets so that victims can be better supported.
A new website was also launched for victims of hate crime which includes an online reporting form to enable victims to report hate crime online.
The website, called True Vision, is supported by all forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and can be accessed at www.report-it.org.uk PCC Mr Coppinger said: “Hate crime is one of my priorities as a Police and Crime Commissioner. No one should have to live with the fear and angst that comes with being victimised due to an ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality or disability.
“Step by step we are tackling the issue in Cleveland and are encouraging people to report it through ongoing work.
“As part of that work we have introduced third party reporting centres, online reporting, we have a network of hate crime champions across the force area and we have launched a DVD for the training of officers, staff and partners to raise awareness of the impact of the crime and to address the levels of under-reporting.
“National Hate Crime Awareness Week helps bring hate crime to the forefront of people’s minds and it will hopefully let victims know that they will be supported one hundred percent.”
Inspector Dan Maddison, who developed the network of hate crime reporting champions, said: “In some cases of hate crime, victims and witnesses have learned to accept it as part of daily life. We need to spread the message that this shouldn’t be the case and that there is support available to them. The network helps people to report incidents and understand what will happen if they do.”
For further information log onto http://www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Information/Hate-Crime-and-How-to-Report-It.aspx