A NEW frontline was drawn in Littlehampton on Thursday in the battle against hate crime and victimisation.
The Littlehampton branch of the Citizens Advice Bureaux, in Anchor Springs, is one of three facilities trialling a new hate incident report centre scheme by Sussex Police.
Alongside CAB branches in Bognor and Chichester, staff and volunteers in Littlehampton have taken part in an awareness session to help them recognise the warning signs of those who are potential victims of hate crime and prejudice – even if they don’t know it themselves.
Speaking about the project, Debbie Dawe, operations manager at Littlehampton CAB, said: “It’s something that is worthwhile for the community and helps in making it a better place.
“It’s an easy way to help empower our clients and we’re excited by it.”
The move is in response to recommendations in the wake of Stephen Lawrence’s murder for forces to offer people alternatives to police stations to report crime.
Arun district commander Chief Inspector Pip Taylor presented the centre with a certificate after the session.
The CAB team is now able to offer advice and guidance on how people can report crimes if they need to.
Sergeant Peter Allan, the police force’s first dedicated hate crime officer, helped to lead the two-hour awareness session in Littlehampton.
He said: “The main thing for me is that hate crime is still misunderstood and under reported.
“People don’t understand the language that we use. They also don’t seem to understand what the lowest forms of hate crime and incidents that can and should be reported to us.”
He said people often ask if they would be taken seriously and treated sympathetically by police.
He added: “If you have been subjected to behaviour that makes you feel sad, hurt, upset, or vulnerable, and you were targeted because of your disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity rather than the person across the street, then you should report it to us.”
The number of hate crimes recorded in Arun has increased over the past year – which Sussex Police is pleased by. The force say that it shows more people feel confident about coming forward to police and telling them about instances of hate crime and hate incidents.
Between April, 2013, and April, 2014, a total of 85 hate crimes were reported, with most being racially motivated (56 crimes). However, other reports surrounding homophobia (12), disabilities (11), transgender (two) and religion (four) were also received.
Thirteen hate incidents – which aren’t a crime but nonetheless still under the ‘hate’ spectrum – were also reported during this stage.
This year’s figures already look set to surpass 2013/14’s.
For details on hate crime, see www.report-it.org.uk