STAFFORSHIRE Police is encouraging victims of hate crime to speak out as it supports Hate Crime Awareness Week (October 10 - 17).
In the past six months, there have been over 800 reports of hate crime in Staffordshire.
A hate crime is any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards a person based on their actual or perceived race, religion sexual orientation disability, or transgender identity.
The national week of action aims to raise awareness of what is classed as a hate crime and help those who need ongoing support.
Throughout the week a different type of hate crime will be featured on social media each day as well as information on how to access support.
The force is also contacting hate crime victims to gather feedback about their experiences and the service they received upon reporting the crime.
This will provide learning points for the force, helping to develop their processes and procedures to ensure future victims are provided with an effective service and the right support.
Officers across Staffordshire will be revisiting and supporting repeat victims.
The force’s staff associations are also getting involved as they play an integral part in delivering the best possible service to the diverse communities in Staffordshire. They assist in raising awareness and building relationships in the area as well as being a support network for staff.
Chief Inspector Paul Talbot, who is the force lead for hate crime, said: “Hate crime is such a personal crime because it attacks a person’s identify and the characteristics that makes that person an individual. It is important that the community understand and recognise the impact of this type of crime.
"Hate crime can take many forms and isn’t just physical abuse, it can be verbal, bullying, threatening behaviour, online abuse and damage to property.
“It is rarely a one-off incident. The crime can have devastating psychological effects, which include anxiety, emotional trauma and insecurity. It can really affect a person’s wellbeing.
“Hate crime is not acceptable and it is important that if you are a victim or witness hate crime that you report it. There are various ways to do this, either online via our website, sending us a message on our social media channels, or by calling 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.”
Racism is the most widely reported type of hate crime and in the last six months there have been 576 racially motivated hate crimes reported in Staffordshire.
There has also been 123 reports of hate crimes targeting sexual orientation, 63 reports of disability hate crime and 28 reports of transgender hate crime.
Hate crime regarding religious beliefs was reported 21 times. The force wants to ensure that it is protecting potentially vulnerable victims who deserve to go about their daily lives without fear of physical or verbal abuse.