Police are launching a crack down against hate crime to reinforce its zero-tolerance during a national awareness drive
Community Engagement Officers in Southern Area Command will be visiting groups in the area to talk about hate crime throughout National Hate Crime Awareness Week, as well as the support that is available to those who think they have been a victim.
The aim of the week is to raise awareness that 'being you is not a crime, targeting you is' to stamp out suffering by those who are targeted because of who they are and what they look like.
Anyone who is targeted because of their race, faith, religion, disability, gender identity, age or sexual orientation, is a victim of hate crime. And, police want to make sure those who are victims know they will get the support they need if the matter is reported to police.
Officers will also be talking about the effect hate crime can have on victims and the impact it has on their lives to make sure those who think it is ok to target people because of their characteristics know the consequences of what they are doing.
Vera Baird QC, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: “I give my 100% full support to Hate Crime Awareness Week.
"There’s no place in our society for intolerance and prejudice and let’s be clear - it will certainly not be tolerated by Northumbria Police.
“This week is all about engaging with all members of all our communities, to raise awareness and highlight all the support that is on offer throughout the force area.
“It really is important that all victims have the confidence to report hate crimes, if not to the police, to one of our partners.
“My message to anyone suffering any form of prejudice or discrimination is to speak up. Nobody should suffer alone – help is at hand.”
Superintendent Sarah Pitt said: "We simply won't tolerate hate crime in our communities, no-one should be targeted because of who they are and we will do all we can to raise awareness of hate crime to stamp out the unnecessary suffering victims have to endure.
"The affect hate crime has on victims is enormous and we have had people tell us they do not want to leave their homes because of they way they get treated when they are walking down the street. This isn't fair, everyone should be able to live comfortably in their community without this kind of fear.
"Coming forward and reporting incidents to police is a huge step forward in helping us to tackle the issue - if we are aware we can do something about it and it is important that victims know they will have our full support.
"While we are focussing our efforts this week during hate crime awareness week it is important to stress that we work day in day out throughout the year to raise awareness and tackle hate crime."
During the week police will also be dispelling any myths victims may have if they do report incidents to police.
Supt Pitt added: "We often find that people can be hesitant to come forward and report a hate crime to the police, some people worry they will have to go to court to give evidence or have a police officer turn up in a marked vehicle outside their home but this is not the case. We are very much focussed on the needs of victims and will do whatever is necessary to put them at ease during our enquiries."
Throughout the week Southern Community Engagement Team will be answering questions on Twitter about hate crime. Questions can be tweeted to @NPSENGTEAM
Hate crime can be reported to police using 101 in a non-emergency or 999 in an emergency.
Hate crime can also be reported through non-police agencies such as True Vision (http://report-it.org.uk/home) or ARCH.
Further information on Hate Crime is available on Northumbria Police website.
For more information about National Hate Crime Awareness Week follow @northumbriaPol #StopHate #Weallstandtogether #NHCAW