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14 October 2017, 11:29
Dorset Police have revealed they get more than 50 hate crimes reported to them a month - and are committed to tackling the issue.
The force is supporting an awareness week, starting today, saying it will protect the 'diverse communities' in the county.
Latest from Dorset Police
Dorset Police is supporting Hate Crime Awareness Week as part of its commitment to increase reporting and tackle these crimes. The week runs from 14 - 21 October 2017.
Hate crime is defined as any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim, or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's protected characteristic or perceived characteristic of age, disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender.
Nobody should have to live with the fear and anxiety that hate crimes and incidents cause. Not only is there a significant impact on victims, but it can also affect family, friends and others in the community.
Dorset Police receives an average of 51 reports of hate crime a month, as well as an additional 45 reports of hate incidents. Despite the far-reaching impact hate crime and incidents can have, it is still known to be widely under-reported and Dorset Police is encouraging victims to come forward in confidence either directly to the police or to supporting agencies.
The Dorset Police Hate Crime Lead, Superintendent Jez Noyce, said: "Hate crime can take many forms including verbal abuse, physical assault, domestic abuse, harassment and damage to property.
"However it isn't just hate crimes we want to encourage people to report, but also hate incidents. Even if an incident may not constitute a criminal offence it can be just as damaging to victims and often incidents can add up to represent a crime. We need to know it is happening so we can deal with it.
"Anyone could be a victim. For example, you may have been targeted because someone thought you were gay, even if you are not, or because you have a disabled sibling."
The law recognises the damage that hate crimes can cause and as a result tougher sentences can be imposed on offenders where the crime has been carried out due to hostility or prejudice.
Superintendent Jez Noyce, continues: "It has been recognised that some recent events abroad and across the country could trigger prejudice against some of the different diverse communities living in Dorset. This is unacceptable and we are committed, along with our partners, to support any victims and protect all communities and groups from the harm of hate and prejudice.
"The priority for us is to ensure that victims of hate incidents or crimes are supported and that appropriate actions are taken. As part of the Prejudice Free Dorset partnership we work to build the trust and confidence of victims to encourage more people to report and ensure the correct support is in place for when they do."
A smart phone app is available to help victims of hate crimes. The app aims to help the most vulnerable members of society understand how to deal with the traumatic effect of such crimes and report incidents in private. It can be downloaded via your relevant smartphone app store by searching 'Hate Crime2'.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, said: "I share Dorset Police's commitment to encouraging reporting. Being a victim of a hate crime can severely impact how safe residents feel in their own communities and it is the responsibility of all those in the criminal justice system to ensure the appropriate support is available.
"Supporting victims is a crucial part of my Police and Crime Plan and I will continue to work with the Force to ensure victims are empowered to come forward and receive the highest standard of service when they do."
If you are a victim or witness of a hate crime or incident please report it to Dorset Police online at dorset.police.uk/do-it-online and click on the 'Report a hate crime' button. Alternatively if you wish to speak to someone call 101. In an emergency always dial 999.
For further reporting options, support and information visit:
Dorset Police: dorset.police.uk/hatecrime - Easy read information and reporting forms are available on this page.
Prejudice Free Dorset: www.prejudice-free-dorset.co.uk
Access Dorset: 01202 771336 / www.accessdorset.org.uk
Dorset Race Equality Council: 01202 392954 / www.dorsetrec.org.uk
Intercom Trust: 0800 612 3010 / www.intercomtrust.org.uk
Victim Support: 01202 606200