Learning lessons of hate crimes

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher and Sarah Lewis
Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher and Sarah Lewis

HATE crime awareness courses have been launched in Hartlepool aimed at rehabilitating offenders who commit homophobic and transphobic crimes.

Hart Gables, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Hartlepool, has launched its Eliminate Hate Rehabilitate programme, believed by staff to be the first of its kind.

The group received a huge boost recently when it was awarded £6,000 from the Government’s Community Action Aginst Crime programme and some of that cash will now be put towards the programme.

The scheme is already underway and is aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes and rehabilitating offenders.

Sarah Lewis, a hate crime officer at Hart Gables, which is based in York Road, in Hartlepool, said the majority of people who commit hate crimes don’t realise they are doing wrong.

She told the Mail: “Some people have grown up in a society where it’s normal to be straight and a lot of people who commit hate crime don’t actually think they are doing anything wrong.

“The main aim is, of course, for us to reduce hate crime.

“The grant is a fantastic boost for us and it is going to be extremely helpful over the next 12 months.

“It will help us with our Eliminate Hate Rehabilitate programme.

“Like when drink drivers get caught and they go on a course, if someone commits a hate crime we can get them to come on a programme to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“I haven’t seen this done in the past and it will help to raise awareness of hate crime.”

The recently launched programme was discussed at Hart Gable’s annual general meeting which was held last week.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright attended the meeting at Springs, on Hartlepool Marina.

Sarah added: “The meeting went well, we had a good turn out and it was great to have Mr Wright with us.”