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Police pledge to tackle hate crime after more than 150 incidents were reported in Hartlepool last year

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.
Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.

Council bosses are pledging to tackle hate crime after more than 150 incidents were reported in Hartlepool in the past year.

Safer Hartlepool Partnership figures show from August last year to the end of July 151 incidents of hate crime were recorded, an average of 12.5 a month.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

This is 16 fewer incidents than the same period last year, thanks mainly to a large reduction in reports of disability hate crime which reduced from 19 offences to 9 in 2017/18.

The partnership noted how 148 (98%) of those reported incidents were classed as criminal offences and urged people to report any incidents of hate crime they see.

This coincides with National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2018 which runs from October 13-20.

Kate Ainger, research officer for Hartlepool Community Safety Team, said: “To tackle this the community safety team are actively carrying out a number of initiatives.

“Most importantly we are encouraging people to report incidents that has involved themselves or they have witnessed.

“It helps us get a better understanding of what has happened.

“The more people who ring in about a case we can build up more of what happened.”

Hartlepool Community Safety Team have been carrying out a number of staff training sessions and members have also attended conferences to raise awareness of hate crimes.

Visits have also been made to schools to educate pupils about the issues.

More than 80% of the incidents reported last year were racially motivated with the total number dropping one from the previous year to 126.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, chairman of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership and the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “Hate crime can have a devastating impact on its victims and it is important that we provide them with a way of reporting incidents.

“By raising awareness of the support that is available to victims we hope they will be more confident about coming forward. Everyone in the town should be able to get on with their lives without fear of abuse.”

Hate crimes are committed against people because of their actual or perceived disability; gender-identity; race, ethnicity or nationality; religion, faith or belief; sexual orientation or alternative sub-culture. They also include so-called mate crimes where someone befriends a vulnerable person with the intention of exploiting them financially, physically or sexually.

The vast majority of hate crime incidents reported in Hartlepool are race-related.

Hate crime can take various forms, including threatening behaviour, verbal abuse, assault, robbery, damage to property - including offensive graffiti, inciting others to commit hate crimes, harassment and exploitation.