A new phone number has been introduced to help tackle hate crime in South Tyneside.
Hate crime is any criminal offence where a victim is targeted because of their race or ethnicity, religious belief, disability, gender, gender identity, age or sexual orientation.
The new reporting line – 0191 427 2020 – available 24/7, ensures local calls are dealt with at a local level and replaces a previous regional reporting method.
Its launch also coincides with Hate Crime Awareness Week, which runs until February 14.
Throughout the week, South Tyneside Council has been working with its partners at South Tyneside Homes and Northumbria Police to raise awareness and help people recognise hate crime as well as to highlight the importance of reporting incidents and to promote the support available.
The Community Safety partners have been delivering workshops among local community groups, from college students and police cadets to ethnic minority groups, the Young People’s Parliament and estate officers at South Tyneside Homes.
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “Hate crime can have a devastating impact on people’s mental and physical wellbeing. It can make victims feel very isolated, depressed, frightened, distressed and unsafe.
“Sadly incidents often go unreported and we want to change this. We need victims to come forward so that we can understand the extent of the problem in any particular area of South Tyneside or against any particular group of people, and more importantly, to be able to provide support to those affected.
“We hope that people will find the confidence to report incidents through this new localised number. Abuse based on prejudice and discrimination will not be tolerated in our communities.”
Hate crime related incidents are wide ranging and can include anything from verbal abuse, threatening behaviour and bullying to physical assault, damage to property and targeted anti-social behaviour.
Support is tailored to meet the needs of each victim and may include emotional support, practical support or advocacy.
Temporary Superintendent Sarah Pitt said: “We recognise that not all victims of hate crime will feel comfortable coming forward and speaking directly to police which is why services such as this are vitally important and have our full support.
“Victims of hate crime shouldn’t suffer and we’re pleased with all of the work that has taken place this week to raise awareness of what hate crime is and the action taken to tackle it.”
Victims are urged to call 0191 427 2020 to report a hate crime incident to South Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Homes. Calls are treated confidentially and victims have the option to remain anonymous.
Incidents can also be reported by email to email@example.com
Anyone in immediate danger should call the police direct on 999. The police can also be contacted on 101 for non-emergencies.