Wokingham Borough Council is spreading the message that there is no place for hate this National Hate Crime Awareness Week (8 to 15 October).
While the borough is a safe place to live, nowhere is free from the risk of hate crime and hateful extremism. A hate crime is any crime targeted to a person because of hostility or prejudice towards their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or disability.
Incidents of hate crime in the borough remain relatively low, but like the national picture they are on the rise and we all have a part to play in reversing this trend, with 75 per cent of hate crime in the borough being based on race and religion.
We all have a part to play in reversing the trend
Cllr Ian Shenton, executive member for environment, sport and leisure, said: “Eradicating hate may seem an impossible mission, but if everyone shows kindness, empathy and understanding to one another, we will go a long way towards achieving it. An important step is to ensure residents have the confidence to report a hate crime and to know that it will make a difference to not only your life, but also the lives of others.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to keep Wokingham Borough a safe place to live for all residents and it is vital that we continue to celebrate our differences and stand together. It may be hard to confront, but by reporting a hate crime, you may stop someone else from being a victim.”
Hate crime has gone up in Wokingham borough every year for the last four years. Nationally, incidents have increased by nine per cent (year ending March 2021) compared to the previous 12 months. From a total of 124,091 incidents recorded across England and Wales, 92,052 were related to race.
An area of improvement nationally has been in religious hate crimes, which have fallen by 18 per cent (down from 6,856 to 5,627 offences in the previous year). This was the second successive fall in religious hate crimes since a peak of 7,202 offences in the year ending March 2019.
While increases over the last five years have been driven by improvements in crime recording, there have been spikes following certain events, such as the EU referendum and terror attacks.
Tackling hate crime is one of the many aims of the Community Safety Partnership (CSP), as the council works with agencies such as Thames Valley Police to protect vulnerable people.
The CSP Strategic Assessment (May 2021) shows recorded hate crime is increasing in Wokingham Borough, with 242 offences (an increase of nearly 25 per cent). Recent trends have involved racially motivated or faith motivated incidents, following a rise last year of those recorded as homophobic and transphobic.
How to report a hate crime
- In an emergency, call 999 or 112. If you cannot make voice calls, you can contact the emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone. However, you can only use this service if you have registered first.
- If you are nervous about talking to the police, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via their website.
- Use the True Vision website’s ‘reporting online’ page to get the incident forward to the relevant police force (Thames Valley Police). You can download a self-reporting form and send it to the police, with an easy-read version also available.
- You can email the council’s Community Safety Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Agencies such as Citizens Advice can report an incident on your behalf and give you help and support. There are lots of organisations that can help depending on the nature of that hate crime.
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