Police reveal hate crime is up 16 per cent in Suffolk as they launch new HOPE campaign in conjunction with National Hate Crime Awareness Week
Suffolk has seen a 16 per cent rise in hate crimes in the last six months compared to the same period last year, the county's police force has said as it supports National Hate Crime Awareness Week.
The constabulary said it is committed to tackling hate crime across the county's communities after revealing it recorded 559 hate crimes between April and September, compared to 481 over the same period last year.
It comes ahead of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, which takes place from October 10 to 17 and raises awareness and understanding of what hate crime is, as well as encouraging victims to come forward.
A spokeswoman for Suffolk Police, which is working towards a goal of #NoHateInSuffolk, said: "Hate crime not only has a harmful effect on its victims by attacking who they are as individuals because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity, but also on their families and communities.
"It includes online and verbal abuse as well as physical assaults."
They said it is believed that many incidents across all categories go unreported but the majority of crime reports relate to racially-motivated hate crime.
Superintendent Kerry Cutler, the lead for Hate Crime at Suffolk Police said: "While all crime is damaging to society, hate crime can seriously undermine the confidence and quality of life of both individuals and specific communities.
"The individual victim of the crime may suffer physical injuries or enduring emotional trauma. News of hate crimes spreads quickly through communities, increasing fear and lessening people’s willingness to express their identity and go about their normal lives.
"This is why tackling hate crime carries an importance beyond the individual crime itself. A robust response to hate crime helps build confidence within communities that they have the support of Police and wider society, so that the actions of a bigoted few should not be allowed to interfere with their right to share in our open, diverse community.”
The week of action will see the police force continue its partnership working with Community Safety Partnerships in Suffolk, Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care, Suffolk County Council, and Crimestoppers.
In a bid to promote positive citizenship and understanding of diversity amongst children and young people a new ‘HOPE’ campaign – Hate crime awareness; Operational response to hate crime; Prevent hate crime; Empower communities affected by hate crime – is being launched within Suffolk schools.
Schools will also be invited to take part in the new Suffolk ‘HOPE’ awards in which they can nominate a child, young person or group who has made an outstanding contribution to promoting diversity or building community cohesion. Nominations for the awards will continue through the academic year.
The Suffolk UK Youth Parliament and Ipswich Youth Council, supported by Suffolk Police and Suffolk County Council, have created a number of videos highlighting young people’s experience of hate crime in the county.
They will be released in the coming days and it is hoped that these testimonies will shine a light on the prejudice and hostility that some people suffer and offer guidance and support for those affected.
Police Community Engagement Officers will be involved in a large range of activities across the county including hosting a public information stand on the Cornhill in Ipswich on Tuesday, October 13 from 10am.
On the same day a ‘street meet’ with community engagement officers will take place in the Britten Centre, Lowestoft .
Visits and engagement with a number of diverse community groups are planned throughout the week to further raise awareness and encourage reporting of hate crime.
Suffolk Police Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said: "Everyone has a right to live safely in Suffolk without the fear of prejudice or discrimination.
"It goes without saying that we should treat each other in a respectful way, but if that’s not the case, we need to support victims of discrimination and ensure they have the confidence to report.
"The Constabulary takes hate crime seriously all year round but I do support this #NoHateInSuffolk awareness week which gives us the opportunity to highlight the issue and encourage victims to report hate crime.
"If, for whatever reason, victims decide not to go to the police, Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care can offer support or if anonymity is required you can report a hate crime to Crimestoppers. I would encourage anyone affected by hate crime to please seek support.”
Cllr Paul West, chair of Suffolk's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, added that Hate Crime Awareness Week is an 'important way' to shine a light on prejudice and improve the understanding of diversity in the county.
"This year schools and young people are getting involved and learning about their peers’ experiences of hate crime and how they can be supported.
"It is concerning that there has been an increase in reports of hate crime in Suffolk and through the launch of the HOPE campaign we are promoting positive citizenship and cohesion in our communities.”
Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care (commissioned by the Norfolk and Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioners) said: "We offer free and confidential support to anyone affected by hate crime, whenever it happened, whatever took place, we are here to help.
"We also want show our solidarity with other local organisations who are working against hate crime in the region. #WeStandTogether with National Hate Crime Awareness Week. You can find us at @nsvictimcare on social media, or call us on 0300 303 3706”
In further support of the week of action Crimestoppers are launching a ‘No Hate in Suffolk’ campaign to highlight that victims of hate crime can report incidents to the charity anonymously.
A video explaining more about what hate crime is and how to report to Crimestoppers is to be released on their social media platforms.
Given that hate crime incidents often take place in public spaces including public transport, police are offering advice to those who may be witnesses and reminding them that their own safety is a priority.
Watch, be a witness. Don’t turn away as it gives the message to the offender that their behaviour is normal and acceptable.
Observe and pay attention to what is happening, the description of the offender, where you are, what time it is, so that you have the best information when you report it.
Inform security, staff or other people that might be able to help.
Once you are in a safe space you can then report the incident as a witness directly to the police online or call 101.
Remember – in case of emergency always call 999.
Check in with the victim if possible, even if it’s after the incident.
Check if the victim is OK. Ask if they need you to call anyone for them.
Let them know of support services available and how they can report the incident - visit www.suffolk.police.uk/hatecrime .
Further information and support
Hate Crime can be reported directly to police online www.suffolk.police.uk/contact-us/report-something/report-crime or anonymously via True Vision.
If you prefer to speak to someone, dial 101, where someone will be able to help you.
Always dial 999 when life is threatened or people are injured, or if there is a crime in progress or an immediate police response is necessary.
If you have been a victim of or witness to a hate crime and are in need of support, contact Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care, who offer advice and support to help you cope and recover from the impact of crime. It doesn’t matter how long ago the crime happened or if it has been reported.
Call 0300 303 3706, visit www.nsvictimcare.org or go to their social media at @nsvictimcare
Information for young people is also available on The Source website www.thesource.me.uk/HateCrime
For more information on the National Hate Crime Awareness week visit https://nationalhcaw.uk
For further crime prevention advice visit www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/crime-prevention-z