Wiltshire Police is supporting the national drive to increase reporting of hate crime by running an awareness campaign to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward.
The ‘Challenge it, Report it, Stop it!’ campaign is part of the government’s action plan and blueprint to tackle the problem.
Hate crimes take many forms and can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, physically and emotionally.
The central cause is hostility, prejudice or hatred based on a person’s gender, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation. This intolerance can manifest itself in bullying, hate mail, graffiti, vandalism, threats of violence or physical assault.
The campaign’s specific aims are to:
• raise awareness of hate crime and highlight that people don’t have to tolerate it
• encourage victims to report hate crime either directly to police or other support agencies
• compel witnesses to come forward and report hate crime
• deter potential offenders from committing hate crime.
Wiltshire’s hate crime figures reflect a national trend in under-reporting of hate crime with research revealing that victims are reluctant to come forward either through fear of attracting further abuse, or because they don’t believe the police will take them seriously.
Nobody has to put up with it
Detective Inspector Kevin Osborn from Wiltshire Police’s Crime Management Unit said: “Wiltshire is a predominantly rural community where people living in smaller communities suffering verbal abuse or intimidating behaviour may feel they simply don’t know who to turn to or that they just ‘have to put up with it’.
"Nobody has to put up with it.
“Hate crime is a crime in the eyes of the law and as such it will be treated the same as any other crime.
"We want people to know that they will be supported, crimes will be investigated and there are teams of specially trained people and agencies who they can turn to for help and advice.”
Improving reporting mechanisms and increasing professional knowledge is crucial to understanding and handling hate crime.
Network of trained Hate Crime Advisors
To enhance the level of support to victims, Wiltshire Police has established a network of trained Hate Crime Advisors (HCAs) whose specialist knowledge complements the excellent links they have already in their role working with local communities.
Alongside this, the Force has introduced comprehensive reporting and recording systems, all of which contribute to the Force’s drive to increase reporting and reduce hate crime.
Hate Crime Advisors are responsible for engaging with vulnerable groups, contacting victims to advise them of where they can seek support and also liaising with police investigating officers.
Since their introduction, the number of hate crimes and incidents reported and recorded has steadily increased.
Detective Inspector Osborne said: “By the end of 2013, we want our figures to show that the confidence to report hate crimes has risen significantly.
"We want to foster trust and confidence, not only in hard to reach communities, but right across the county so that victims will always know that they will be supported by the Force if they come forward to report a crime.”
If you’ve been affected by hate crime, report it
If you think you’ve been affected by hate crime, you can report it to Wiltshire Police in person, to a police officer or PCSO on the street, or at a police Enquiry Office, via 999 if you think it’s an emergency or through the 101 non-emergency police number.
You can also email or write to us. Visit www.wiltshire.police.uk to access the range of contact options. All the information we received is treated confidentially.