Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger is calling for people to report hate crime as he once again supports National Hate Crime Awareness Week.
The week of action calls for more awareness of crimes motivated by prejudice towards a victim’s race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. This year, organisers are hoping more people will feel able to come forward and report hate crime incidents.
Mr Coppinger has long been a supporter of tackling inequality in all its forms and his office provides additional funding to Cleveland Police to ensure hate crime is investigated properly.
He funds two dedicated hate crime investigators, who have secured hundreds of positive outcomes for victims since they were introduced two years ago. School Liaison Officers have also been reintroduced to promote good citizenship with young people at an early age.
The PCC invests in specialist initiatives and groups to prevent hate crime and educate young people. Thanks to PCC funding, thousands of school children in Cleveland have taken part in Show Racism the Red Card’s anti-racism workshops and many have engaged with anti-discrimination organisations such as Media Cultured and TransAware.
Mr Coppinger said: “I’m supporting National Hate Crime Awareness Week because no-one should be made to feel victimised for simply being who they are.
“I’m proud of the work my office does to support victims of hate crime and to encourage young people to grow up with an understanding that tolerance and diversity is to be celebrated, not feared.
“I support a number of community events throughout the year that bring Cleveland’s diverse communities together, including the Eid Fusion Festival, Middlesbrough Mela and Middlesbrough Pop-up Pride.
“This week offers a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the good work organisations are doing to support victims and to point people in the right direction if they need to report a crime.”
The PCC will be engaging with a range of partner agencies during the week to discuss how they can work together to reduce hate crime incidents and improve community relations.
Mr Coppinger wants victims to know that their reports will be taken seriously. He said: “Many offenders convicted of hate crime will receive an uplift on their sentences to reflect the seriousness of the prejudicial nature of their crimes. That’s why it is so important to report a hate crime incident, no matter how minor you consider it to be.
“If you are a victim of hate crime, but don’t feel comfortable speaking to the police, Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS) can direct you to a third-party reporting service and still make sure you receive the support you need.”
Victim Care and Advice Service can be reached on 0303 040 1099 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about victim services are listed at: https://www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Victim-Services/Victims-of-Crime-Information.aspx