Cheshire Constabulary is joining other North West police forces in raising awareness of hate crime this week.
Held from Monday 5 February to Sunday 11 February, the inaugural North West Forces Hate Crime Week will see organisations and partners holding events across the region in a bid to tackle hate crime in all its forms.
The week aims to educate people on what hate crime is, encourage them to report all instances of it – either directly to police or via one of the growing numbers of third party reporting centres – and highlight the support services that are available to both victims and witnesses.
Cheshire Constabulary is committed to making the experience of reporting hate crime as easy as possible for all victims and witnesses.
A large number of third party reporting centres spread across the county are listed on the force’s website. They include charities and public venues and provide help and support for people who would prefer not to report a hate crime directly to police.
Nick Bailey, Acting Assistant Chief Constable at Cheshire Constabulary, said: “Everyone in Cheshire should feel free to be themselves. No one should face violence, abuse or hated just because of who they are, who they love, where they are from, what they look like or what they believe.
“Being targeted because of your race, gender identity, religion/faith, sexual orientation or disability is a hate crime and we are determined to do all we can to stop all forms of hate crime.
“But we understand that some people are wary of speaking to the police. It is imperative that victims have the confidence to speak out if they have been subjected to a hate crime and the Police and Crime Commissionaire for Cheshire has commissioned training and support for a wide range of voluntary organisations and servicer user groups to provide a third party reporting service for victims and witnesses.
“They offer a safe and comfortable environment and all the help and support people need with reporting a hate crime.
“They will help you fill in an easy to fill in form on the True Vision website and the police will then use that report to investigate the hate crime thoroughly and make sure the perpetrator is made to face the consequences of their actions.”
David Keane, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, has commissioned Warrington Voluntary Action to refresh training for the third party reporting centres.
The PCC, Warrington VA and Cheshire Constabulary are holding a training event on diversity and hate crime reporting at The Gateway Community Resource Centre on Sankey Street in Warrington on Thursday 8 February.
Mr Keane: “Hate crime is an ongoing and emerging issue, both nationally and in Cheshire, that is currently under-reported in the local area.
“I am committed to providing funding to commission services that provide the necessary support to victims to encourage them to report these issues to ensure they are investigated properly.”
There will be a guest speaker at the Community Diversity Champions event talking about his real life experience of hate crime on an international scale.
The invite-only event will promote the work to train staff from third party reporting centres and see a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) linked to each centre to provide support.
Inspector David Gordon, Cheshire Constabulary’s hate crime lead, said: “The public will be aware that hate crime reports increased nationally last year, but some parts of the Cheshire community are still not reporting incidents.
“Third party reporting centres are community service allies that help us ensure that as many of the incidents of hate crime that take place in Cheshire are reported to us as possible.
“We will not stand for hate crime and have strict protocols to ensure that every incident is dealt with, with the victim firmly in mind.
“Every victim is directed to Cheshire Cares, an enhanced service offering free emotional and practical support to help victims cope and recover from the impact of crime.”
During North West Forces Hate Crime Week, Cheshire Constabulary staff will be out and about with its Hate Crime Car and PCSOs across the force will be holding and attending events to raise awareness of hate crime, including at Runcorn Shopping City on Thursday 8 February and in Congleton on Friday 9 February.
Hate crime can be reported to Cheshire Constabulary by calling 101, or in an emergency 999. However, if you do not feel comfortable talking to the police you can report it online via True Vision at www.report-it.org.uk/home or at a third party reporting centre. For the full list of reporting centres in Cheshire visit www.cheshire.police.uk/advice-and-support/hate-crime/third-party-reporting-centres.