A pilot project has been launched in Fenland to help tackle hate crime and encourage victims to come forward.
The “Fenland Together: Stop The Hate - Report It to Sort It” scheme was launched in the Queen Mary Centre, yesterday (Monday, March 16).
The partnership, which is led by the police and Fenland District Council, brings about 30 organisations together to encourage people who are victims of hate crime to report incidents to other organisations a well as the police.
Staff at more than 25 centres across Fenland have been given information on how to spot a hate crime and the best advice to give to service users. It is hoped this will help to address the problem and give people the confidence to know that any reports will be taken seriously and acted upon.
Speaking at yesterday’s official launch, Chief Insp Mike Hills, Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Fenland Area Commander, said: “Protecting the vulnerable is one of the police’s priorities. It is essential the public feel confident that we will take their reports seriously and do something about them.
“Unfortunately, for various reasons, some victims of hate crime are reluctant to report such crimes directly to the police.
“Using the strong relationships and support provided by the third sector and voluntary organisations, we have now established the means for victims to report such crimes confidentially, through our partners. We hope this approach will enable us to act on incidents that may previously have gone unreported.”
Cllr David Oliver, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member for community safety, is encouraging victims to support crimes.
He said: “We can only deal effectively with these sort of crimes by working together and providing places where people will feel safe and comfortable to report them. These centres will give them that opportunity.”
Det Insp Dan Pawson focused particularly on crimes against people with disabilities, which he described as “the hidden hate crime” that had only recently come to the fore.
Some victims’ experiences of bullying and harassment were recounted by James Sheard and Michelle Mansfield from the Speak Out Council, a charity for people with learning disabilities.
Claire Bailey, service manager for Cambridgeshire County Council’s Learning Disability Partnership, said: “Vulnerable people have a right to be safe and to be protected. It is the responsibility of the whole community to work together to support them.”