Agencies in Northumberland are turning to technology to help make it easier to report and tackle hate crime in the county.
And to help launch a new mobile phone app which raises awareness of this sometimes hidden crime, a conference is being held in Northumberland which will hear first-hand the impact hate crime can have.
The app, developed for the Safer Northumberland Partnership and available for iPhone and Android phones, helps people understand how to deal with the traumatic effect of such crimes, why it happens, how to report it and where to seek help and support.
Across Northumberland over the past year, there were 69 hate crimes – which can include people being targeted over race, religion, disability or sexual orientation. As hate crime is thought to be widely under-reported nationally, the app allows individuals to report instances wherever and whenever they feel safe.
The app will be officially launched at a special conference in County Hall tomorrow, when a variety of agencies will come together for a series of presentations on hate crime – including input from people in the county who have suffered hate crime themselves.
The Safer Northumberland Partnership includes Northumberland County Council, Northumbria Police, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, Northumbria Probation Service and Northumberland Care Trust, as well as a variety of voluntary sector organisations.
Liz Simpson, chairman of the Safer Northumberland Partnership, said: “While this county is one of the safest in the UK, we know there is still under-reporting of hate crime and we need to do all we can to make it easier for people to report incidents easily and quickly.
“We want as many people as possible to be aware of this issue and the fact help is out there. There are a number of agencies doing great work to raise awareness and offer support and we want to bring them all together. If this app manages to save just one person from this despicable kind of crime, then it has to be worth it.
Detective Chief Inspector Deborah Alderson, from Northumbria Police, said: “While some hate crimes are obvious, not all are so easy to identify and some people can be victims of hate crime without even knowing, that’s why it’s so important that we raise awareness in what this is.
“We need people to know that the police, and our partners, are here to help and nobody needs to feel like they have to suffer in silence. Anyone who has been subjected to behaviour that makes them feel upset, nervous or vulnerable or feel targeted because of their age, faith, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation or because they are transgender should report it to police straight away.
“Anyone can report a hate crime, whether you are a victim, a family member, a carer or think you’ve witnessed a crime. The priority for us is to ensure that victims of hate incidents and crimes are supported and that appropriate actions are taken.”
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has long campaigned against hate crime. She said: “I support any initiative to tackle hate crime. No one should ever be victimised because they have a different faith, gender, sexuality, age or disability.
“It’s incredibly important to me that anyone suffering from this appalling crime has the confidence to speak out and get help in whichever way is best for them and makes them feel most comfortable. As technology continues to evolve, people receive information in new ways such as via apps on phones.
“This app gives people a wealth of information and support options to their own phone. I hope it goes a long way to bringing an end to this type of crime and gives people encouragement to speak out about it.”
The app can be downloaded for Apple and Android phones by searching for Hate Crime 4 through the App Store or Google Play store.