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Commissioner backs hate crime report

9 September, 2014

HATE crime victims have been told they shouldn’t suffer in silence as part of a raft of recommendations which could transform the way hate crime is handled in Lancashire.

Lancashire County Council and the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner have today joined forces – backed by Lancashire Constabulary – to launch a new report into hate crime.

The research, from Lancaster University professor Dr Paul Iganski , shows many victims of hate crime in Lancashire are suffering in silence, and incidents go unreported.

And, as a result, a raft of recommendations are set to go before Lancashire’s Strategic Hate Crime Group aimed at ensuring victims have the confidence to come forward, report their experiences and know they will be listened to.

Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw, said: “I am committed to supporting victims of crime and ensuring they know they can report any incidents, they will be listened to and their experiences will be taken seriously and handled sensitively.

“It is part of my pledge to ensure communities feel safe – and victims of hate crime should not feel they will be treated differently from anyone else. The recommendations which have been made as a result of Dr Iganski’s report are aimed at addressing that, and I welcome them.

“Although the research primarily focussed on victims of religious hate crime, adopting these recommendations across Lancashire will help address the damaging and destructive nature of hate crime for all minority groups. By taking these on board, we can ensure victims understand help is available, and there are alternatives to suffering in silence.”

County Councillor Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We commissioned this report because we recognise the destructive impact that hate crime can have on people’s lives.  The report’s recommendations should lead to a significant improvement in how we deal with this issue in Lancashire.

“More than anything I want this report to show people that we will take their concerns seriously.  If they are the victim of a hate crime they should come forward as they will be listened to and action will be taken.”

The recommendations contained in the report include:

  • Third-party reporting arrangements managed by trusted community organisations should be established specifically for religiously aggravated crimes.
  • The Lancashire Strategic Hate Crime Group should explore the provision of hate crime bystander training for public sector employers in the county, so they can support hate crime victims immediately following incidents.
  • The process for providing feedback to victims who report hate incidents and crimes should be reviewed to ensure victims are kept satisfactorily informed.

These will now be discussed by the multi-agency Lancashire Strategic Hate Crime Group, who will consider how they can be taken forward.

Lancashire Constabulary is also supporting the report’s findings and Chief Superintendent Stuart Noble stressed the importance of victims feeling they can approach the police.

He said: “It is unacceptable that in 2014 people are still victimised because they are perceived as being different.

“Interestingly this report has established that individuals are rarely targeted because of their religion but instead because of their appearance or behaviour, with many incidents being entirely opportunistic and involving verbal abuse. Sadly children also feature amongst the perpetrators.

“Anybody victimised because of hostility towards them motivated by their religion, race, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation should contact police. It is important that all incidents of hate crime are reported. It is vital for us to know what is affecting the communities of Lancashire, so we can work with our partners to prevent these crimes and incidents that we know have such a big impact on the victims.

“Although it’s true that a lack of evidence can sometimes reduce the possibility of identifying an offender or a prosecution,  it is vital for us to know what is affecting the communities of Lancashire,  so we can monitor any hot spot areas and wherever possible introduce activities to stop hate crimes and incidents such as targeted work with young people.

“I hope this report helps to raise the profile of hate crime in all its forms and in particular the support available in Lancashire to. We are committed to tackling all crime motivated by hate and prejudice and we would urge anyone who has been a victim of a hate incident or crime to have the confidence to come forward and report it to police.”

Hate crimes should be reported to the police on the non-emergency number 101 and through the Constabulary website www.lancashire.police.uk. Hate crimes can also be reported through True Vision, a national online hate crime reporting facility at www.report-it.org.uk.

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