Bedfordshire Police is supporting a week of action that raises awareness to help people spot the signs of hate crime and give victims the confidence to come forward.
A hate crime is any criminal offence perceived by the victim or others as being motivated by prejudice or hatred.
This can be against their gender, identity, ethnicity, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation.
The message for the Spot UK awareness campaign this week is simple: Stop it - report it!
Chief Inspector Gayner Coulson, the force lead for hate crime, said: “We have seen an increase in people reporting hate crime, however we cannot be complacent and must continue to strive towards increasing the confidence of our communities. We all have a responsibility to continually drive activity which tackles hate crime.
“Our focus for the next 12 months is to bring agencies more closely together to ensure those affected in Bedfordshire are better protected. We are dedicated to raising public awareness and working closely with partners to provide third party reporting centres.”
Despite the increase in people coming forward, research shows more than 80 per cent of hate crimes are not reported to police.
Victims are often more confident in reporting to their peers in an environment they are comfortable with.
Bedfordshire Police will be providing training to partners who will be coming on board to provide alternative places for victims to report this type of crime.
Chief Insp Coulson said: “Everybody deserves to live a life without fear and prejudice towards any aspect of a person’s identity will not be tolerated. We urge anyone that sees this to come forward and have the confidence to speak out.”