From Devon & Cornwall Police:
Devon and Cornwall Police is staging a week of action, events and activities to raise awareness of hate crime and encourage communities to report it.
Engaging with schoolchildren, a ‘chatter bus’ and videos created by university students are among a host of ways officers are reaching out to residents.
The force is aiming to raise awareness of what hate crime is, stand by those affected by it, and encourage people to report any incidents.
It is also encouraging businesses and organisations to sign its Zero Tolerance to Hate Crime pledge.
Hate Crime Awareness Week runs from 12-19 October.
A hate crime is any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice because of a certain characteristic.
This can be a person’s race, religion/belief, sexual orientation, disability, or because they are transgender.
Police in Devon and Cornwall also record and monitor hate incidents/crimes based on sex or gender.
Superintendent Jim Gale, the force’s hate crime lead, said: “Hate crime is particularly harmful and damaging because it seeks to attack a person’s identity and can have a life-long impact.
“During Hate Crime Awareness Week, we will be supporting and conducting a range of activities, seeking to ensure that our service and response to victims of hate crime meets the needs of all members of our communities including the most vulnerable.
“We want people to report hate crime to us so that we can act. We have zero-tolerance of hate crime.”
Inspector Sally Kingdon, of the Diverse Communities Team, said: “Hate Crime Awareness Week is an important calendar event for Devon and Cornwall Police as we seek to raise awareness and encourage reporting using the many different methods available – including online via our police website, 101 email and BSL for the deaf and hard of hearing.
“Our Zero Tolerance to Hate Crime campaign helps organisations also show their support and spread the message of respect for all across our communities.”
A free Hate Crime Awareness Week launch event featuring activities, music, food and workshops will take place at Plymouth Life Centre on Saturday 12 October from 10 am to 4 pm. Members of the public are invited to join in the fun.
Police are working with schools across Devon and have challenged youngsters to design a ‘hate crime awareness box’ as part of a competition.
There will be workshops and inputs to local language schools, disability groups, engagement events at Falmouth, Plymouth and Exeter universities, as well as a local radio broadcast in Cornwall.
Hate crime awareness activity sheets for children have also been designed and produced along with a host of informative materials thanks to £2,000 of funding from the Safer Devon Partnership.
Falmouth University students have helped the force’s Diverse Communities team to create a series of hate crime-related videos which will be used across social media during the week.
A ‘chatter bus’ will be stopping off in various locations around Plymouth during the week. The initiative is an opportunity for police and partner organisations to engage with people across Plymouth and raise awareness of hate crime.
Recorded hate crimes in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly between April 2018 and March 2019 increased by 11 per cent when compared to the same period in 2017/18.
Insp Kingdon said: “We work closely with all of our communities building trust and confidence whilst also promoting the ways that the police can be contacted to report hate crime.
“We acknowledge that hate crimes and incidents are under-reported and we actively encourage people to report, so that by knowing what is happening, and where, enables us to do something about it.
“We hope that the increase in the numbers of reported hate incidents reflects the confidence that our communities have in our policing service.
“Everyone within our communities has the right to feel safe and it is wrong that someone may be targeted for being who they are.
“During National Hate Crime Awareness Week, we seek to promote respect for everyone and to let our communities know that we take hate crime seriously.”