Hate crime team launched in Norfolk

Organisations from across Norfolk came together yesterday to launch an initiative in the battle against hate crime. It is hoped people from all walks of life will be given the confidence to report incidents in which they believe they have been targeted because of who they are or what they believe.

Organisations from across Norfolk came together yesterday to launch an initiative in the battle against hate crime.

It is hoped people from all walks of life will be given the confidence to report incidents in which they believe they have been targeted because of who they are or what they believe.

A new Multi Agency Protocol (MAP) means people can report crimes and incidents motivated by hate not only to the police but to other participating organisations who they may feel are more approachable.

Yesterday the message from Norfolk Police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Norfolk County Strategic Partnership and others was clear - don't suffer in silence because all hate crime will be taken seriously and must be reported.

Andrew Baxter, chief crown prosecutor of Norfolk, said: “Raising awareness of hate crime is vital and the MAP shows it is something we want to stamp out.”

Mr Baxter said that in the last year 1,300 hate crimes had been prosecuted in England and Wales with 160 of those in Norfolk.

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He said the success rate of prosecutions was over 80pc and the prosecution of hate crime was an issue the CPS took seriously.

“Prosecuting hate crime is in the public interest and I am yet to come across a hate crime that did not pass the public interest test,” he continued, “It will be tackled robustly.”

A crime is classified as a hate crime when the person involved feels that discrimination and difference was a factor in the offence being committed.

It can involve discrimination on the grounds of age, race, religion, sexual orientation and disability.

Assistant chief constable Kevin Wilkins said: “The new MAP is a code of practice which organisations can use to provide people in the community with support to report hate crime.”

In the financial year 2008/09 there were 487 hate crimes reported in Norfolk and a further 283 incidents reported which people felt had happened due to discrimination but could not be classified as crimes.

Mr Wilkins said that the last year had seen a 14pc reduction in reports of hate crime but this was not necessarily good because the police did not understand why that reduction had taken place.

He said he wanted to give everyone in the community the confidence to report crimes so an accurate picture of what was going on could be developed.

Abraham Eshetu, head of diversity at Norfolk Police said: “Often victims of such crimes live their lives in fear and isolation not knowing who to turn to for advice and support.

“The protocol will ensure that hate crimes and incidents are recorded consistently across Norfolk, whilst giving victims the confidence to come forward and know what to expect when they make reports.”

To report a crime call the police on 0845 4564567 Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or go to www.report-it.org.uk. Crimes can also be reported through participating organisations.

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