Initiatives by Essex Police to raise awareness and encourage reporting of Hate Crime in the county have resulted in a large rise in the number of reported incidents.
Figures released by the Home Office on Tuesday (Dec 17) show that hate crime incidents reported to the Force in 2012/13 increased by 46 per cent.
This increase is a result of both a renewed confidence in victims coming forward and more diligent recording of this crime.
Assistant Chief Constable Maurice Mason said: “It has been widely acknowledged that hate crime within the UK has been vastly under-reported for a long time so I am extremely encouraged by this report.
“This clearly shows that the steps we have taken in Essex to address this issue have had an effect. They are beginning to work and victims are becoming more confident in reporting hate crimes to the police.
“In particular we have seen a significant rise in the number of victims of disability related hate incidents coming forward whereas in the past there had been virtually none.
“We know there is more to be done which is why we recently launched our ‘Stop the Hate’ initiative.
“We will continue to work in partnership with others who have expertise in the field, to ensure victims feel supported, and know that they will be dealt with in a sensitive and professional manner.
“It is important to raise awareness among the wider community – and for everyone to realise that hate crime and bullying will not be tolerated.”
Among the steps that Essex Police and its partners have taken to address the under reporting of Hate Crime are:
• Improved quality assurance of crime reports to ensure any elements of discrimination are picked up.
• The introduction of Hate Crime officers with specialist training
• Greater liaison and contact with victims
• New Hate Incident Reporting Centres to make it easier for members of the public to report hate incidents, by providing safe and accessible places for them to go with information.
• Plans for an associated network of Hate Crime Ambassadors across Essex - able to engage actively with the wider community in promoting hate crime awareness and work closely with the Essex Police Hate Crime Officer team.
• A ‘Stop The Hate ’ Twitter account to highlight the work that is being done to combat hate crime – whether it be on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
• The launch of the website www.stopthehate.org.ukthat will become a one stop shop for all things hate crime – information, advice, news, and HIRC networking.
• Work with our Strategic Hate Crime Panel and Strategic Independent Advisory Group to promote trust, confidence and transparency to encourage reporting and assure positive outcomes.