Hate crime champions recruited within communities to help put a stop to attacks

Hate crime champions are being recruited to put stop to bullying and abuse before they begin.

By Fiona Thompson
Friday, 09 August, 2019, 06:00
Community engagement officers Nichola Jewels and James Gordon with representatives from Sunderland People First.

Northumbria Police has teamed up with Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council to enlist Hate Crime Champions, who will in turn educate peers and colleagues.

Community engagement officers have visited Sunderland People First – a community group which improve the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism – to give a presentation on the project.

Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt said: “It is unacceptable to abuse somebody because of their race, age, sexual orientation, religion, disability, transgender identity or any other protected characteristic.

Community engagement officers Nichola Jewels and James Gordon will be working with communities through the project.

“Hate crime is something we believe has been under-reported for a long time, but as a force, we have worked extremely hard to give victims the confidence to come forward.

“The Hate Crime Champions scheme means businesses or groups can have nominated champions in their organisation who can support and advise people who may have been a victim to these types of offences.

“Victims can then speak to a friendly face in a safe, secure environment and can receive advice on how to report what has happened to them, or how they may be able to get specialist support.”

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Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness urged victims to speak out and said: “We know that not everyone feels comfortable in calling 101 or 999, so I wholeheartedly welcome the ‘Hate Crime Champions’ initiative that will offer further support to victims and increase awareness across the region.”

Councillor Michael Mordey, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Everybody has the right to live, work and play free of hate crime.

“Working with and in the community, this scheme is about tackling hate crime and stopping it.”

Councillor Joan Atkinson, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, added: “Hate crime can have a devastating impact on people’s mental and physical wellbeing.

“This sort of crime is not, and will never be, tolerated in our communities.

“Working in partnership with Northumbria Police, we want to mobilise people to recognise hate crime and help stop it.”

Any individuals, groups or businesses interested in becoming a champion’ can contact 4986@northumbria.pnn.police.uk.