Senior figures from the region’s criminal justice system have pledged their continuing commitment to tackling hate crime across the North East, at the launch of National Hate Crime Awareness Week (12-18 Oct).
At a launch event in Darlington Town Hall to mark the week, police, prosecutors and the region’s three Police and Crime Commissioners talked about the harm that hate crime can cause, both to individuals and to society as a whole.
The term ‘hate crime’ refers to any crime against a person which is perceived to be motivated by a person’s hostility or prejudice against certain characteristics; race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Introducing the event was Jan Lamping, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East. She said: “Safety and security and the right to live free from fear and harassment are fundamental human rights. Criminal offences that are driven by hostility or hatred based on personal characteristics undermine the very principles of fairness and equality upon which our society is built. Such crimes are based on ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and hate, and those values have no place in an open and democratic society.
“Every person here today is committed to supporting those affected by hate crime; whether it is on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
“We would encourage anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of hate crime to take that vital first step and report it to the police.”
At the event, each of the Police and Crime Commissioners talked about the ways in which criminal justice partners are tackling hate crime.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger said: “Tackling hate crime is at the top of our agenda – this type of offence is unacceptable and no one should suffer in silence.
“Over the last year we have launched a network of hate crime reporting champions to help raise awareness of the issue and thereby increase reporting to reflect what is truly happening. This has had a huge impact, particularly on the reporting of disability hate crime which has seen an increase in incidents reported more than double over the last year with 22 reported incidents in 2013/14 compared with 54 reported incidents in 2014/15.
“This network of crime reporting champions is given the training and skills to look out for signs of abuse amongst the most vulnerable and give them the support they need in reporting it to police.
“Through the Improving Homophobic and Transphobic Hate Crime Steering Group, which is chaired by the Safer Future Communities Network for the Voluntary and Community Sector, I have commissioned research into how to improve confidence within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGB&T) community in reporting hate crime. This has led to me funding a series of five multi agency training events for front line Police and Local Authority staff to give them a better understanding of LGB&T hate crime and how to deal sensitively with victims.
“I am also proud to be supporting Cleveland Police in joining the rainbow laces campaign as a statement of our commitment to tackling homophobic and transphobic hate crime, and will be wearing my laces with pride.
“I have also commissioned a disability hate crime awareness DVD for training staff and partners to raise awareness of the impact of this type of crime and to address the levels of under-reporting; and we are heartened that more people have had the courage to come forward and report such crimes over the last year. This is now being followed up with a similar DVD for use in primary schools.
“I am also funding Show Racism the Red Card to deliver anti racism workshops in primary and secondary schools across Cleveland, with over 2000 pupils having taken part in the project.
“But we are not complacent – we will continue to spread the message that this type of crime is unacceptable and that support is available to those who have suffered from this type of abuse.”
Throughout the week there will be a focus on a different strand of diversity each day – Disability (Monday), Religion (Tuesday), Sexual Orientation (Wednesday), Race (Thursday) and Transgender (Friday).
More information about Third Party Reporting Centres can be found on the following page: www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Information/Hate-Crime-and-How-to-Report-It.aspx
Cleveland PCC Events - Hate Crime Awareness Week 2015
Posted on Friday 9th October 2015