Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Police are working closely together to encourage people to report any hate crime which they may have experienced or witnessed.
In recent months there has been an increase in the number of hate crime reports, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, and it is very likely that many more go unreported.
The Home Office defines hate crime as any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim, or other people, to be motivated by prejudice against them, because of a personal characteristic. This could be their race or ethnicity; religion or beliefs; disability; gender or gender identity or sexual orientation.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, Cllr Susan Press said:
“People may not realise that hate crime is recognised as a separate crime but it is vital that they report it so that we can support any victims and prevent further incidents.
“No one should suffer in silence. We know it can be difficult for anyone who has experienced hate crime to report it, so we’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for people to come forward.”
Anyone who has witnessed or is a victim of hate crime can contact the Police on 999 in an emergency, or 101 at any other time (available 24 hours a day).
Hate crime can also be reported in confidence at one of the third party hate incident reporting centres which are listed at www.calderdale.gov.uk or contact the Council’s Cohesion and Equality Officer, Sail Suleman on 01422 392869 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, if people don’t want to talk to anyone they can report the incident online via the True Vision website(external link).
Chief Inspector Partnerships Justine Plumb of Calderdale District Police said:
“West Yorkshire Police has zero tolerance to all hate incidents and as such people should feel confident in reporting all hate incidents to us.
“Being who you are is not a crime, but being targeted because of race, sexual orientation, religion, disability or gender identity can be.
“Hate crime takes many forms including verbal abuse, harassment, threats, intimidation, physical abuse and vandalism. It can have both a devastating effect on a single victim but also the potential to divide communities.
“We have made improvements to how we record such incidents to help us understand where we are experiencing issues in a particular area or where outside events are impacting on certain communities or individuals.
“What we need is people’s help in reporting incidents to ensure that those affected are offered support and advice and that, where appropriate, action is taken against the perpetrator. Not all hate incidents constitute a criminal offence but by reporting it to us we can build up a picture of any emerging patterns, helping us to police our communities effectively.”
“We have also been running our “Hate Hurts” campaign since 2014 which aims to give people a better understanding of what hate crime is and what they can do about it. You can find out more by visiting http://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/hatecrime(external link)”
In Calderdale an independent Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel monitors hate crime cases, to make sure they are dealt with effectively. The panel includes representatives from statutory organisations, such as the Council, voluntary organisations and members of the public.
The panel meets monthly to review randomly selected, anonymised cases, which are presented by a representative from the Police. The panel members consider whether any part of the case could have been handled differently and may lead to recommendations which will then be introduced to improve the service.
Vice-Chair of the Hate Panel, David Glover said:
“People should have confidence that when they report an incident it will be investigated thoroughly and action will be taken where necessary. The Scrutiny Panel means the process is transparent – members of the public and local partners can see how cases are dealt with and make sure that any lessons are learned.”
As part of its commitment to continuous improvement, Calderdale Council and it partners will be hosting a hate crime seminar in Calderdale on 21 September for practitioners to discuss best practice and learn how to introduce changes at a local level.
Speakers will include Sylvia Lancaster OBE, mother of Sophie Lancaster who was murdered because of her gothic appearance. Since Sophie’s death Sylvia has campaigned extensively to reduce hate crime.