Hate crime under the spotlight in Herts with new survey
Hertfordshire residents are being asked to complete an online questionnaire set up by the county's hate crime partnership board for National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2021 (Oct 9-16).
Cllr Morris Bright, Herts County Council's executive member for community safety, said: "It's really important that we work together to encourage residents to report hate crime so that we can learn more about this pernicious behaviour in order to seek to prevent it from happening in the future.
"Completing this survey will help agencies in Hertfordshire understand why some residents might hesitate to report hate crime."
The law recognises five types of hate crime on the basis of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity, but not sex.
Any crime can be prosecuted as a hate crime if the offender has demonstrated or been motivated by hostility based on any of the five protected characteristics.
Supt Matt Phillips, of Hertfordshire Constabulary's crime reduction and community safety unit, said: "Tackling hate crime is not just a matter for policing. We can't simply arrest our way out of hate crime. It's a societal issue and the solution is much broader than that.
"Many hate crimes simply go unreported and this means they're not investigated, suspects aren't dealt with and are left to reoffend. Also, victims aren't accessing the support they're entitled to and the help they need to move on.
"Victims don't need to report crimes or incidents directly to police, we have third-party reporting centres spread across the county with access in person, by phone and online, as well as national organisations supporting victims.
"It's key that we all work together towards the Hertfordshire Hate Crime Board Partnership's strategy to achieve the key objectives of raising awareness of what a hate crime is in our communities, how and where people can report hate crimes to and for victims to have the confidence to report hate crimes in the first place."
East Herts has its own hate crime officer, PC Donna Pryke, who said: "I feel angry and sickened about some of the jobs I deal with and how they have made the victim feel. It saddens me to hear some of the stories relating to the ignorance of others."
Josie O'Driscoll, chief officer at Herts support group Gypsy and Traveller Empowerment (GATE), said: "Gypsy, Roma, Travellers (GRT) experience a shockingly high degree of discrimination, prejudice and racism in their daily lives.
"Our aim is to raise awareness among Gypsy, Roma and Travellers about hate crimes and the need to report them. We're working to improve reporting rates and we want hate crimes against GRT to be given the same recognition and public profile as other hate crimes."
Complete the survey at bit.ly/herts-hatecrime.