Cumbria Police launches online service for reporting hate crimes
Categories: Latest News
Friday July 18 2014
The News and Star, The Westmorland Gazette and the North West Evening Mail draw attention to Cumbria Police force’s launch of an online service enabling hate crimes to be reported directly by victims.
The new service aims to address the dual problems of an increase in hate crimes and significant under-reporting by victims.
According to the News and Star, Cumbria Police logged 217 hate crimes between April and December 2013, more than for the whole of 2012-13. However, police officers note the increase could also be due to more people coming forward than simply a case of rising incidents. Although, with underreporting making it difficult to obtain reliable data, the rise in recorded incidents could just as well be due to a rise in hate crimes.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria, Richard Rhodes stated: “Any crime is unacceptable, but hate crime in particular has a dramatic impact on people’s lives. Any initiative that makes it easier for people to get in touch is to be welcomed.”
Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson added “Hate crime is historically under reported. Offering alternative methods to notify us of such incidents will hopefully bridge the gap to those victims who as yet have not accessed our services.”
Indeed, research has consistently shown that hate crime is being under-reported, a trend also highlighted in the Home Office’s report last year on hate crime across England and Wales.
While Cumbria’s police force already operates 54 Third Party Reporting Centres across the region, the Westmorland Gazette notes the rebranding of the centres to Hate Incident Reporting Centres following an evaluation that deemed the service to be insufficient in meeting victims’ needs.
The Hate Incident Reporting Centres enable victims to report hate crime without needing to visit a police station. Third party reporting centres were first recommended in the report by the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, the MacPherson report, noting that some communities may feel apprehensive in reporting crime at police stations and that alternative options ought to be made available to ensure police protection for vulnerable groups.