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Bedford’s first ever hate crime conference hailed a success

11 Jul 2018

Community groups packed into the Agency for Culture and Change Management’s (ACCMUK) base in Bedford on Thursday (5 July) for the town’s first ever hate crime conference, to find out more about hate crime and how it can be reported.

The charity set up the community conference in conjunction with Bedfordshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at its centre in Woburn Road. ACCMUK’s aim is to tackle inequalities that impact on minority and the most disadvantaged communities in Bedfordshire.

Hate Crime Sergeant Carl Perri said: “Hate crime can affect many people, but it is often those from minority communities or the most vulnerable who are targeted because of their identity, which is why we set up the conference. Often people who have suffered all their lives find it normal to be treated with hostility, as they’ve put up with it for so long. We want people to realise that being who you are is not a crime, but being victimised for it is and we encourage all victims to come forward.”

The organisations and community members learned about what constitutes a hate crime, more about potential victims and perpetrators, how to report a hate crime and what is being done to tackle it. The aim of the event was to encourage attendees to speak out and support victims from their communities to give them the confidence to report hate crime.

Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway talked about the funding she has given to fund hate crime ambassadors in schools so the next generation can learn the importance standing up against hate crime. She told the conference: “Dealing with hate crime effectively is a genuine priority for Bedfordshire Police, given that this is one of the most diverse counties in the country. The force succeeds in obtaining a successful prosecution rate in over 80 per cent of cases taken before the courts and they, and our residents, can be absolutely certain of my support in ensuring that we will not tolerate the targeting of any individual because of their gender, sexuality, race, culture, colour or disability. This is 2018 and the world, thankfully, has moved on from accepting this type of ignorance.”

Other speakers included:

Val Ross from The Anne Frank Trust Ambassador Programme for Schools, who explained how they have worked in schools in Bedfordshire for the last three years training more than 800 ambassadors to be role models and influencers to take action against hate crime and call out prejudice and discrimination using Anne's story which is still relevant today. She explained how working in schools with young people can eradicate hate and fear at an early age.

Sergeant Perri explained more about hate crime and the importance of monitoring hate incidents which can quickly turn into hate crimes.

Sat Paul from ACCMUK who helped set up the group Bedford As One, who described how diverse organisations have come together to help communities to live as one in Bedford.

Inder Kaur Singh from the CPS talked about how there's not a hate crime law. Other offences, such as criminal damage or assault, become a hate crime when they're motivated by hate and hostility has been demonstrated. The sentence is then uplifted if hate is a factor. She stressed: “We can pursue justice, but we can't do it on our own. We need the community and police to work together to gather strongest evidence in each case.”

Sgt Perri added: "The conference was a great opportunity to educate partner agencies about hate crime and how some of the people they come into contact with might be suffering in silence.

Hate crime can be reported to police on 101 or online to True Vision at www.report-it.org.uk or via Third Party Reporting Centres.

Catch up with the latest news about what Beds Police is doing to tackle hate crime by following @HateCrimeTeam on Twitter.

Hate Crime Conference at ACCMUK
Hate Crime Conference at ACCMUK

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