West Yorkshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire are today (Monday, 13 October) jointly launching a new campaign to highlight the issue of hate crime.
The campaign launch coincides with the national Hate Crime Awareness Week which started on Saturday, 11 October, and aims to give people a better understanding of what hate crime is and what they can do about it.
A new online reporting system is being introduced by the Force to help encourage victims and witnesses of hate incidents – whether it is verbal, physical or on social media – to report it to the police.
The police are also making improvements to how information about hate incidents is recorded. A number of sub-categories for the recording of faith and disability hate crimes are being introduced to get a better understanding of the impact of national and international events on local communities and improve and target services for victims.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle said: â€œBeing who you are is not a crime, but being targeted because of race, sexual orientation, religion, disability or gender identity can be.
â€œHate crime takes many forms including verbal abuse, harassment, threats, intimidation, physical abuse and vandalism. It can have both a devastating effect on a single victim but also the potential to divide communities.
â€œEveryone has a part to play in reporting hate incidents. It may be that some incidents do not constitute a criminal offence but by letting us know we can ensure that support and advice is offered to those involved and action taken where appropriate. The reporting of incidents also helps us build up a picture of any emerging patterns and helps us to police our communities.â€
Mark Burns Williamson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, said: â€œRaising awareness of hate crime and how to report it is a key priority in the Police and Crime Plan.
â€œI want victims and witnesses of hate crime to feel able to come forward and report it to individuals and organisations they trust, because it is not acceptable in any form.
â€œWe all have a responsibility to challenge the attitudes and behaviours that foster hatred because early intervention and education can make a real difference to communities ensuring they are safer and feel safer.â€
Anyone with information about a hate incident is asked to report it either by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency, online atwww.westyorkshire.police.uk/hatecrime or www.report-it.org.uk or in person at a police station.
Alternatively, there are independent Hate Incident Reporting Centres (HIRCs) across West Yorkshire for anyone who does not want to speak directly to the police. To find your nearest centre visit the West Yorkshire Police website.