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Bedford Blues Rugby and Luton Town Football clubs joined Bedfordshire Police's campaign to kick out hate crime during National Hate Crime Awareness Week of Action (NHCWA).
Community officers engaged with the clubs and hundreds of people across the county during NHCWA to educate, raise awareness and encourage reporting of the crime.
They also headed into various schools and colleges and hosted a number of community events, including one with nearby residents and those at Brookdale Care in Wyboston, who have autism, mental health needs and learning disabilities.
Sergeant James Hart, Force Hate Crime Tactical Lead, said: “It was an action packed week, but it was amazing to engage with so many people from all different walks of life and get them to sign our pledge boards to put a stop to hate crime.
“We were also really pleased to get our two biggest sports teams in the county involved and backing our campaign, helping us to raise awareness. Although the force has seen a rise in people reporting hate crime, we know it remains under-reported. Educating and encouraging people to come forward is paramount, as nobody should suffer in silence.”
On Tuesday there was a launch event of the Anne Frank Trust UK in Vandyke Upper School in Leighton Buzzard, which Bedfordshire Police has teamed up with to run an anti-hate crime project in schools across the county. Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke was a special guest speaker and talked about her remarkable story.
On Thursday there was a Hate Causes Harm conference at the Rufus Centre in Flitwick for partners, community and volunteer groups. The impact hate crime has on a victim was examined and the benefits and barriers of using Restorative Justice (RJ) in cases. RJ is an opportunity for victims to communicate with the offender, seek explanations and explain the impact the crime had on them. It can also allow the offender to explain how they intend to make amends for the harm caused.
An insightful victim’s video was also launched during the week, where victims from Bedfordshire, represented the five different stands of hate crime, including disability, race, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation, tell their stories. They bravely explain how hate crime has affected them and encourage other victims to report any crimes.
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, also pledged her support and backed calls for hate crime online abuse to be treated more seriously.
Commissioner Holloway said: “I am only too pleased to sign up to Bedfordshire Police’s campaign. It can be devastating to be picked on because of your faith, race, gender, sexuality or as a result of a disability. As PCC, I encounter examples almost daily of our communities living in a tolerant and harmonious way, together. Unfortunately, there is a small minority whose prejudice and bigotry are voiced through abuse which amounts to hate crime. “Bedfordshire Police has zero tolerance of such behaviour, which is why it has a dedicated sergeant to lead around the whole subject of hate crime.”
If you or anyone you know has been affected by hate crime contact Bedfordshire Police on 101 or contact True Vision online at report-it.org.uk or via the Third Party Reporting centres which can be found on the Bedfordshire Police website.
You can also keep up what Beds Police is doing to tackle hate crime by following @bedshatecrime on Twitter.