Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Gary Thompson awarded certificates and badges to some of Gloucestershire Constabulary’s first cohort of volunteer Hate Crime Champions today.
Last week, over 80 people from across the Force, including police staff and warranted officers, together with attendees from partner agencies, participated in four days of training in Cheltenham to become Hate Crime Champions.
Organising the recruitment and training for the Champions was one of the first tasks for Hate Crime Co-ordinator PC Steph Lawrence. She is based at Barton Street, Gloucester and works with other partners and community groups to raise awareness of hate crime.
PC Lawrence said: “I’m so proud of this first group of trainees who worked very hard last week under the tutorship of the University of Leicestershire’s Dr Stevie Jade Hardy, an expert in hate crime studies. They’ve volunteered to take on this role on top of their existing duties which shows the level of commitment and dedication among police staff and officers. However, we mustn’t forget, this is a multi-agency approach. Only by working with our partner agencies and the community can we provide the best service to the public.”
PCSO Julie Lewis said she volunteered to train to become a Gloucestershire Constabulary Hate Crime Champion because “I am committed to supporting the more vulnerable members of our community”. This was echoed by PCSO Hamid Charafi saying, “I’m a liaison officer for ethnic minority groups in Cheltenham and my aim is to empower these groups and give them confidence to come forward when they hear of incidents of hate crime.” Local Policing Constable Hannah Searle said she took part in the training “because I wear hearing aids and, as someone with a disability, I understand the very real pain that victims of hate crime can feel and I want to help put a stop to it.”
Robin Agascar from GayGlos said, “As a member of the public working against hate crime in our communities for many years, I want to say what a great initiative this is by Gloucestershire Constabulary. It’s a great step forward and very welcome - thank you.”
What is hate crime? Hate crime and hate incidents are those where people are hostilely targeted because of their race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or trans-identity. There can be ‘hidden’ victims also, including those from travelling communities or asylum seekers. Older people and the homeless may also be victims of hostility too.
The goals of the Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Hate Crime Strategy Group, led by Chief Inspector Neil Smith, are:
- Prevent hate crime and hate incidents through education and raising awareness.
- Increase reporting levels and ensure victims feel able to report incidents with confidence.
- Accurately record and monitor incidents of hate crime. Local and national data will be widely available to inform communities and develop services.
- Give victims access to a range of support and resolutions, including third party reporting routes, a county hate crime co-ordinator, hate crime champions, police hate crime co-ordinator and victim lead offender resolutions.
Chief Inspector Smith said, “We need to make these actions and behaviours unacceptable within our communities. To do this we are taking a variety of approaches and working with organisations across all sectors and community groups to raise awareness, take action and support victims.”