Victims of hate crime in Darlington urged to speak out after rise in offences (From The Advertiser Series)
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Victims of hate crime in Darlington urged to speak out after rise in offences
POLICE say they have seen a surge in the number of hate crimes committed in Darlington since the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.
The 25-year-old Drummer was hacked to death in Woolwich in May by two Muslim extremists, and police say the incident has since led to a rise in the number of hate crimes being committed and reported in Darlington.
Police Community Support Officer Christine O’Brien, of Darlington Police, said while more people are committing hate crimes, victims are also becoming more confident about speaking out.
“Hate crimes don’t have to be racially aggravated, they can be anything from somebody using offensive words, to discriminating against you because of learning difficulties, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities or subcultures, like Goths,” she said.
“They come in peaks and troughs but media reports do have a big part to play in the number committed and reported.”
As one of the force’s four specialised community cohesion officers, PCSO O’Brien works solely with victims of hate crimes in Darlington, supporting them and acting as their single point of contact.
She has recently been working with one woman who has been suffering racially aggravated antisocial behaviour outside her house for the past few months, who was reported to PCSO O’Brien by her support worker.
“She was worried that by reporting it to the police, it would make it worse,” she said. “But I reassured her that we do not always have to go round to the address, we can do things over the phone or I can visit her not in uniform or go somewhere other than her home.”
She urged victims not to be scared about reporting hate crimes, and that all reports would be taken seriously and dealt with sensitively.
“If you believe that you have been targeted because you are different in some way we would investigate,” she said.
Sergeant Louise Guest added: “People should be able to live and get on with their lives in Darlington without fear of discrimination.”
Anyone who believes they have been a victim of hate crime in Darlington can report it by phoning Darlington police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
Hate crimes can also be reported at third party reporting centres at Darlington Association on Disability in the market square or at Darlington College, Haughton Road.
For more information on hate crime visit report-it.org.uk/home or contact PCSO O’Brien directly, on 01325-346844 or email@example.com
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