Warwickshire agencies will get together next week to challenge hate crime.
Hate crime is a criminal offence, seen by the victim or anyone else, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice against another person as a result of their race, disability, religion, sexual orientation or transgender.
A workshop on 23 October, organised by Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Police, will see a range of public and voluntary sector agencies sign up to working in unison to tackle and prevent hate crime.
Warwickshire Police Chief Constable, Andy Parker, will open the workshop. Delegates will hear from Mike Slemensek from Warwickshire Police about their REACH programme, designed to encourage people to report race, disability, faith, sexual orientation and transgender hate crimes;
Amanda Burn, co-ordinator of the Safe Places scheme will talk about how this project, running already in Leamington and Warwick, provides safe refuge in public places to people with a learning disability if they feel vulnerable. She will highlight the scheme’s successes and outline plans to roll the scheme out across the county.
Sylvia Lancaster of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation will also speak at the event about hate crime against people who look different. Sylvia set up the charity in memory of her daughter Sophie who was killed because she was dressed as a Goth.
Mike Slemensek, Warwickshire Police’s Equality, Diversity & Human Rights Manager said: “Hate crime is abhorrent. Many victims suffer in silence and do not report what is happening. Some do not know how to actually go about reporting these crimes. Repeat victimisation is a characteristic of hate crime.
“The Warwickshire Police initiative ‘Response and Engagement Against Crimes of Hate’ (REACH) has been introduced with the aim, firstly, of ensuring our response to any report is effective and takes account of the individual needs of the victim. Secondly, through engagement with community groups across the county, we want to encourage more victims and witnesses to report hate crime – so we can offer our help and protection”.
Amanda Burn, Warwickshire County Council’s Service Redesign Officer (Learning Disability) added: “The fear of crime motivated by hate, prejudice and hostility due to a person’s disability is very real and prevents too many people from going out in their communities and playing a part in local life.
“By displaying the Safe Place symbol in as many places as possible we can give people confidence to lead fulfilled lives in their communities.”