Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, Cumbria Constabulary and local partners are developing a countywide intervention plan, following on from recent research on hate crimes experienced in the county. The survey, funded by Police Science, Technology, Analysis and Research initiative, asked residents about their experiences of hate crime in the last twelve months and the specialist support services that are available.
Cumbria Constabulary received 679 hate crimes reports in the last 12 months to March 2021, alongside 99 hate incidents. Hate incidents are defined as reported incidents where the individual’s behaviour does not break the law.
The consultation found that the main impacts of hate crime left respondents feeling anxious (73.5%) and angry (59.3%). Due to these impacts, respondents avoided going to certain places (46.9%) and being afraid to go outdoors (35.8%). Almost half (46%) 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.
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 are 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.
The intervention 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.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall comments: “The hate crime survey research has helped to increase our understanding of the hate crimes that are happening in the county, and by working with partners, we are now able to develop a plan of interventions that will help to prevent hate crimes, and also encourage people to come forward to report and access support.
“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.
“I want to thank everyone who participated in this consultation – every experience is critical to our understanding.”
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. 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”.
Lisa Thornton, Head of Probation Delivery Unit, North West Probation Service, said: “The work being undertaken by the OPCC, and supported by various partners across the county is proving invaluable in helping us to understand the size and scope of the challenge and then informing multi-agency plans to ensure the right interventions are available at the right time, for those who need it.
“The Probation Service welcomes the opportunity to work collaboratively to make a difference to the Cumbrian communities.”
Anyone seeking help or information can access Victim Support’s 24/7 Supportline on 0808 16 89 111, day or night, every day. Their 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