Prejudice Free Dorset host the second annual hate crime conference

11 October 2016
On Monday 10 October, Prejudice Free Dorset held their second annual hate crime conference to challenge prejudice and celebrate difference.

In support of Hate Crime Awareness Week 2016, Dorset Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and partners updated local community groups on progress made since the partnership’s inaugural hate crime conference in January 2016.

Prejudice Free Dorset (PFD) is a multi-sector group including representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors. The group works together to challenge prejudice in Dorset so that all individuals can go about their daily lives safely and with confidence. 

The conference, which was held at the Hamworthy Club, provided a platform for local community groups to work with Prejudice Free Dorset to ensure that the partnership continues to pursue a positive, proportionate and persistent approach to tackling prejudice, which reflects the real issues in Dorset.

Attendees included key community individuals who have prominent roles within, or in support of, the protected characteristic groups in the community: disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, transgender identity. 

During the conference, workshops took place to consider how progress can be made when educating the public about hate crime, how these messages can best be communicated and how victims and witnesses can be encouraged to report hate incidents.

The conference also provided an opportunity to consult with local community groups on the applicability to Dorset of the government’s national ‘Action Against Hate’ plan. Insights offered will directly shape the full Prejudice Free Dorset report, which will be published in November.

Dorset Police Hate Crime lead and Prejudice Free Chair, Superintendent Nicole Searle, said: “Our message is clear: hate crime will never be tolerated, victims will be supported and perpetrators of such crimes will be brought to justice, wherever possible. 

“I welcome the most recent statistics that show improvements in Dorset Police’s performance when dealing with hate crime. Satisfaction with treatment by staff has increased to 95.8 per cent from 88.2 per cent, satisfaction with making contact with the police has increased to 94.7 per cent from 88.5 per cent, and importantly, positive outcome rates have increased from 26.2 per cent to 35.7 per cent.

“Behind the statistics, it is events like these where stakeholders and community groups come together, that help to remove barriers to reporting, improve processes for victims and maintain a partnership approach that reflects the real issues facing our local communities.”

Kerry McGeachy, Contract Manager for the charity Victim Support in Dorset, said: 

“Hate crime can be highly distressing as people are targeted because of who they are or who or what their attacker thinks they are. It can also have a wider impact on communities.

“We know that many victims suffer in silence, so it’s vitally important that they are encouraged to come forward for help, knowing that they will be taken seriously and get the support they need.

“Victim Support offers free and confidential help to anyone affected by hate crime, regardless of whether they choose to report what has happened to the police.”

Deputy Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Colin Pipe, said: “Many people can be victims of hate crime and targeted for their race, sexuality, religion, disability or transgender identity. 

“It is encouraging that more hate crimes are being reported in Dorset, however, we know that this type of crime is generally under reported, often because victims are unsure or scared to tell anyone. 

“We need everyone working within the criminal justice system and the public generally to take hate crime seriously to ensure that everyone can access help and support, for example through the hate crime app which allows individuals to report in the privacy of their own homes.”

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