EVERYONE has a role to play in the fight against hate crime.
The message comes after a rise in the number of hate offences reported in Warwickshire. Some 850 cases of people being physically or verbally assaulted because of disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or identity, were reported last year – up around 50 on the previous 12 months.
While hate crimes made up just two per cent of the some 41,000 crimes recorded in Warwickshire, it can have a devastating impact on victims.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “Hate crime is always unacceptable and should never be tolerated. As a community we must do all we can to change attitudes, support victims and ensure offenders are brought to justice.
“Police are taking hate crime much more seriously and it is so important for people to report it.
“The effect it can have on the individual and their family can be devastating. The police cannot help if they do not know it is taking place. Too many people are too tolerant of hate crime which encourages offenders. It is important we understand it affects communities and report it straight away.”
Early last year volunteers from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) support charity Warwickshire Pride were forced to close an information stall set up at Stratford Market after being subjected to a torrent of abuse.
They endured more than 100 cases of verbal abuse from passers-by – all reportedly adults – saying things such as ‘that’s disgusting’ and ‘we don’t want to see that’.
One even said they ‘had nothing against LGBT people because it was an ‘illness’ which could not be helped.’
Following the abuse Warwickshire County Council pledged its commitment to tackling hate crime.
A spokesman said: “This kind of behaviour must not be tolerated in our society.
“Warwickshire County Council and our partners are united in our aim of keeping all our residents safe from the harms caused by hate and hate crime. We all have our part to play and we must never tolerate hate crime.”
More victims are seeking support.
Charity Victim Support says it has seen a 34 per cent increase in the number of hate crime victims it has offered support to, with 270 people calling on its services last year.
A spokesman said: “Hate crime can have a particularly devastating impact on victims as it’s such a personal attack.
“Of the hate crime incidents we dealt with, over half were religiously or racially motivated. Cases included harassment, threats to kill and in some cases actual bodily harm was caused.”