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First Prejudice Free Dorset Conference

On Wednesday 13 January, The Prejudice Free Dorset partner group held a conference to challenge prejudice and tackle barriers to reporting hate crime.

Dorset Police and partners held the first Prejudice Free Dorset conference to focus on challenging discrimination issues so that all individuals in Dorset can go about their daily lives safely and in confidence.

The Prejudice Free Dorset Group is a multi-sector group including representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors including; Dorset Police, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Bournemouth Borough Council, Borough of Poole Council, Bournemouth University, Crown Prosecution Service, Victim Support and other third sector community groups.

The conference, which was held at Bournemouth University, provided the platform to discuss barriers to reporting hate crime and the role of the Prejudice Free Dorset group moving forward.

Dorset Police Hate Crime lead and Prejudice Free Chair, Superintendent Michael Rogers comments: “Tackling hate crime is a priority for the Force and we are working with partners as part of the Prejudice Free Dorset group to stamp it out.

“This is the first time we have had a conference where all stakeholders as well as members of the community have come together to discuss how to reduce hate crime and improve processes for victims. The working group have recorded any feedback and comments from the conference workshops, which will be used to develop on-going plans and priorities for improvement.”

“The importance of reporting these incidents cannot be underestimated. The priority for us is to ensure the victims of hate crimes are supported and we want to instil confidence in victims to come forward and report however they feel comfortable.”

Various invited individuals attended the event including key community individuals who have integral or 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.

The conference held workshops to discuss how Prejudice Free Dorset moves forward to achieve its aims of tackling discrimination and encouraging the reporting of hate crime. Informative speeches were also given by key partner agencies.

Victim Support Contact Manager, Kerry McGeachy comments: “Being a victim of this type of crime can be particularly frightening as the victims are targeted because of who they are or who or what their attacker thinks they are.

“It’s important that police and other agencies work closely to identify hate crime so victims get the right level of support when they come forward to report a crime.”

Hate crime is thought to be widely under-reported and it is a priority of the working group to encourage victims to come forward in confidence, either to the police or supporting agencies.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Colin Pipe, comments: “Even where prejudice appears to have been overcome, you don’t have to scratch very hard to find it under the surface.

“Reducing hate crime is a key priority and events such as this conference work to raise awareness of hate crime incidents and how they can be reported, as well as build confidence in victims to report.

“It is important that the police work with partners to ensure an effective response to hate crime incidents with appropriate support for those experiencing prejudice.”

Dorset Police can be contacted on 101 or in an emergency always dial 999.


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Dorset Police Hate Crime lead and Prejudice Free Chair, Superintendent Michael Rogers