TIM DREW: Could you be a ‘hate crime ambassador’?

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HATE crime – that is, any crime targeted at people because of a personal characteristic – is not only harmful to individuals but can also prove corrosive in communities.

It is annually monitored by police forces across five ‘strands’ – disability; gender; identity; race, ethnicity or nationality; religion, faith or belief and sexual orientation.

Racism accounted for 84.3 per cent of hate crime during 2013/2014, sexual orientation coming second, with 10.4 per cent, but the greatest increases involved transgender (54 per cent) and religion (45 per cent). And, according to charity Galop, which supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, as much as 80 per cent of transphobic hate crime goes unreported. Sussex Police is, therefore, looking for individuals who are prepared to act as ‘hate crime ambassadors’, to encourage victims to report such crimes either to the police or partnership agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

They will also be able to support those who may become victims and raise awareness of what hate crime is. They will need to attend a two-hour coaching session and will have the opportunity to refresh and enhance their knowledge and understanding at twice-yearly seminars.

Sergeant Peter Allan, who is leading this initiative, can be contacted on 07867 501150 or by email to peter.allan@sussex.pnn.police.uk, by anyone wishing to participate.

Meanwhile, the Adur and Worthing Neighbourhood Policing Team has been working closely with photography students at Northbrook College to produce a range of campaign materials, both to raise awareness and increase reporting of hate crime. As part of the process, the students have undertaken their own research and spent time with victims of hate crime as well as a variety of support agencies.

• PCSO Nicola Burstow’s surgery will be held from 3.30pm to 4.30pm at The Community House, 25 Dominion Road, Worthing, on Wednesday, January 28, followed by PCSO Ben Cruise’s, between 11am and midday at West Worthing Baptist Church, in South Street, Tarring, the next day.