A plan to address hate crime in Cumbria is set to be launched.
Crime commissioner Peter McCall and partners are developing a plan after a recent survey asked people about their experiences of hate crime and support available to victims in the last 12 months.
The plan will include work to encourage victims and witnesses to report hate crime and programmes to address the behaviour of those who commit hate crime.
Latest figures show that in the 12 months to March, Cumbria police received 679 hate crime reports and 99 hate incidents – defined as where the individual’s behaviour does not break the law.
Almost 75 per cent of the people who responded to the survey said they were left feeling anxious and almost 60 per cent said they were angy.
Due to the impact, respondents avoided going to certain places (46.9 per cent) and being afraid to go outdoors (35.8 per cent).
Almost half accessed some support following the crime or crimes. The main types being mental health services, GPs, and local community groups.
Race and sexual orientation were the two main aspects of identity that were targeted, which mirrors national and local recorded reports to the police.
Hate crime workshops
The PCC and Cumbria Probation Service have funded and are hosting a series of workshops with community groups and agencies who work with those who have experienced hate crime.
These, they said, were helping to understand experiences of hate crime to inform the intervention plan and to look at the barriers to victims of hate crime coming forward to report or for support.
Mr McCall said: “To experience a hate crime just once, let alone on a regular basis, can have a devastating and often lifechanging effect on the victim. No one should fear going about their daily life and be forced to live with threats, intimidation, repeated verbal or physical abuse, and being maliciously singled out for who they are, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“We need to break down the barriers of not reporting hate crimes and raise awareness on how people can get help and access support.”
Detective Inspector Scott Elgey, operational lead for hate crime, said: “We welcome the findings and recommendations from this survey.
“These findings allow us to see what further actions we can take to prevent and support victims of hate crime.
“Day-to-day we see the devastating impact that hate crimes have on individuals, families and local communities.
‘No excuse for hate crime’
“There is absolutely no excuse for any form of hate crime, and it will not be tolerated.
“We are aware that hate crimes and incidents often go unreported but be reassured that we take all hate crime reports seriously and encourage those that have been a victim or have witnessed this type of crime, to get in touch with the police and report it.
“All reports are taken seriously and duly investigated by officers.
“We know that contacting us may feel daunting, we recognise this. If you do not feel you are able to ring us for any reason, please talk to someone you trust, or contact Victim Support, Cumbria Together or report a crime anonymously through the True Vision website.”
Trevor Avery, Director of Lake District Holocaust Project, said: “Sadly we are seeing increasing hatred and intolerance across the country and Cumbria is not exempt from this trend.
“Certainly, in the work of Lake District Holocaust Project, we are very aware of the spread of anti-Semitism and it reaches deep into the most unexpected places, even the Lake District.
“We all need to confront it wherever it appears, for the good of us all.”
Anyone seeking help or information can access Victim Support’s 24/7 Supportline on 0808 16 89 111, day or night, every day.
Its online resource, My Support Space, a secure and confidential space where victims can choose how they want to be supported after crime is also available by visiting www.mysupportspace.org.uk