Bedfordshire Police is joining a week-long national campaign to raise awareness of hate crime and encourage victims to report such abuse.
Hate Crime Awareness Week aims to tackle offending and encourage reporting of this destructive crime that has a huge impact on victims, their families and communities as a whole.
Throughout the week a team of PCSOs along with the force’s dedicated hate crime sergeant James Hart, will be increasing community presence and engaging with residents across the county.
Research has shown that hate crimes occur near to victim’s homes, their work places or other places they frequent.
Informative leaflets, designed by students from the Stockwood Park Academy as part of the force’s hate crime competition in February, will be distributed educating residents and local businesses on what constitutes a crime and how to report it.
The initiative will enable people to raise concerns and discuss or learn more about issues surrounding hate crime.
Chief inspector Gayner Coulson, said: “Victims are the focus of our investigations, it is important they know they will be believed and all reports of hate crime are taken seriously.
“Tackling hate crime will ultimately improve people’s quality of life, making people feel safer, more supported, valued and confident in a more inclusive society.
“If left unchallenged hate crime becomes the accepted, it intrudes into people’s lives and becomes normal – it is not normal.
“Our message to perpetrators is clear, we will not tolerate hate crime and we will seek out those that think it is acceptable to target people for who they are. You will be prosecuted.
“Hate crime of any kind, directed against any community, race or religion has absolutely no place in our society and as a force we are striving to create unity in our county.”
This year there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of perpetrators going before the courts compared to last year and events across the world have no doubt raised awareness and impacted people’s tolerance levels as in turn there has encouragingly been an increase in reporting.
However, it is still believed that only 1 in 4 victims of hate crime speak out and police want to see more people having the confidence to report it.
Bedfordshire Police has worked with partners to establish a group of third party reporting centres that allows victims to report hate crime in a more comfortable environment.
Hate crime can be reported to police on 101 or online to True Vision at: www.report-it.org.