Published: January 17, 2012
Police launch new hate crime help service across Somerset

The new hotline is available 24 hours a dayPolice in Somerset have this week launched a new service to make it easier for victims of hate crime to come forward.

A new system of third party reporting has been introduced that means victims of hate crime can report an offence to the police via a wide range of agencies.

The agencies signed up to the new arrangement include Mind, South Somerset Disability Forum, People Can, Terrence Higgins Trust, Somerset Racial Equality Council, Midwest European Communities Association, Somerset Lesbian Network, Compass Disability and Victim Support.

Members of each participating agency have received special training to take these reports and can then, with the victim's permission, report the offence to the police on the victim's behalf.

Each agency also ensures that the victim receives support from the relevant bodies. In cases where the victim does not want the report to be passed to the police, the agency can still take the report and provide appropriate help.

The aim of the new approach is to encourage all victims of hate crime to speak out and to receive support.

A hate crime is any criminal offence that is perceived by the victim, or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate - it may be associated with someone's race, faith or belief, disability, cultural background, gender, age or sexual orientation.

Victims of hate crime can find the idea of contacting the police a daunting prospect for a number of reasons, such as language difficulties or a belief that the process will be too complicated. The aim of the new scheme is to encourage reporting through alternative routes as well.

Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE, who has written a book about coming to England in the sixties, has endorsed the scheme.

She told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "I receive letters from children who have read my book. These letters from children, Jewish, Latvian, Polish, African and many other countries, demonstrate the damage that is done to their well being and self esteem when they are victims of hate crime."

"I hope that the work of the Strategic Partnership Against Hate Crime (SPAHC) helps to redress and reduce some of these crimes."

Superintendent Matt Ayres, who chairs the SPAHC, added: "We are delighted that this new system has now been put in place and that it covers 10 different agencies."

"We hope this will encourage people who don't want to report directly to the police to make a report to one of our partners instead.

"The reason all those involved have worked so hard to bring this about is because, like a number of other offences, we believe hate crime is under reported and we want to encourage as many people to come forward and report it as possible.

"The aim of all the agencies that have signed up to this new process is to work together to support victims of these types of offences, to reduce the number of hate crime incidents and to bring to justice those who commit these offences."

And Susanne Jarman of Victim Support added: "Victim Support is proud to be part of this new initiative and we bring a wealth of experience in supporting victims of crime. Victims who use this third party reporting scheme can be confident that we will ensure an individual and confidential approach to their concerns."

"We would urge victims to use this new process and help us and our partners to identify and eradicate hate crime in our county."

The agencies involved in the new scheme have also launched a new website giving information about third party reporting and which agencies are involved in the new process. Visit www.dontstandforitreportit.org

 


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