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'Report it to sort it': tackling hate crime

A pilot project has been launched in Fenland to help tackle hate crime and give victims the confidence to come forward.

Stop the Hate launch pic

The scheme, called "Fenland Together: Stop the Hate - Report It to Sort It", was launched yesterday (March 16) at the Queen Mary Centre, Queens Road, Wisbech.

It brings about 30 organisations together to enable people who are victims of hate crime to report incidents to third-party partner agencies as well as directly to the police.

The partnership is led by Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Fenland District Council.

Staff at more than 25 third-party reporting centres across Fenland have been given information on how to spot a hate crime and the best advice to give to service users. It is hoped this will help to address the problem and give people the confidence to know that any reports will be taken seriously and acted upon.

A "hate crime" is any incident perceived as being motivated by prejudice or hate connected with the victim's race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. It may include verbal abuse, physical assault, harassment and damage to property.

Speaking at yesterday's official launch, Chief Inspector Mike Hills, Cambridgeshire Constabulary's Fenland Area Commander, said: "Protecting the vulnerable is one of the police's priorities. It is essential the public feel confident that we will take their reports seriously and do something about them.

 "Unfortunately, for various reasons, some victims of hate crime are reluctant to report such crimes directly to the police.
  
"Using the strong relationships and support provided by the third sector and voluntary organisations, we have now established the means for victims to report such crimes confidentially, through our partners. We hope this approach will enable us to act on incidents that may previously have gone unreported."

Councillor David Oliver, Fenland District Council's Cabinet member responsible for community safety, said: "We can only deal effectively with these sort of crimes by working together and providing places where people will feel safe and comfortable to report them. These centres will give them that opportunity."

Detective Inspector Dan Pawson focused particularly on crimes against people with disabilities, which he described as "the hidden hate crime" that had only recently come to the fore.

Some victims' experiences of bullying and harassment were recounted by James Sheard and Michelle Mansfield from the Speak Out Council, a charity for people with learning disabilities.

Claire Bailey, service manager for Cambridgeshire County Council's Learning Disability Partnership, said: "Vulnerable people have a right to be safe and to be protected. It is the responsibility of the whole community to work together to support them."

• To report any hate crime, call 101 (or 999 in an emergency) or visit the True Vision website at www.report-it.org.uk/home.

Places/organisations that will be serving as hate crime reporting centres include:

Fenland District Council's leisure centres and shops
Circle Roddons
Citizens Advice Bureau
Fenland Volunteer Centre
Fire & Rescue Service
Ferry Project
Octavia View
Queen Mary Centre
Rosmini Centre
Oasis Centre
Children's Centres
One Voice for Travellers
Cambridge Human Rights and Equality Support Service (CHESS)
VoiceAbility
King's Lynn Area Resettlement Service (KLARS)

Article added March 17, 2015