Hate crime campaign targets religion

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As part of our continued hate crime campaign, West Yorkshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire are focusing this month on the issue of faith-related crime.

A joint hate crime campaign was launched in October to raise awareness of the five strands of hate crime – race, sexual orientation, religion, disability and gender identity. Each month since then the campaign has focused on one of the strands; gender identity hate crime in November and disability hate crime in December.

This month, to coincide with World Religion Day on 25 January, campaign activity is focused on faith hate crime. Faith hate crime is any criminal offence motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s religion or belief or lack of religion or belief.

At the start of the campaign a number of sub-categories were introduced for the recording of faith incidents and crimes to get a better understanding of the impact of national and international events on local communities and improve and target services for victims. Ongoing work is also taking place with officers and staff to raise awareness of the distinction between race and faith hate crimes and how best to record such incidents.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Paul Money said: “West Yorkshire Police has zero tolerance to all hate incidents and as such people should feel confident in reporting incidents of this nature to us.

“We have made improvements to how we record such incidents to help us understand where we are experiencing issues in a particular area or where outside events are impacting on certain communities or individuals.

“What we need is people’s help in reporting incidents to ensure that those affected are offered support and advice and that, where appropriate, action is taken against the perpetrator. Not all hate incidents constitute a criminal offence but by reporting it to us we can build up a picture of any emerging patterns, helping us to police our communities effectively.

“What some people may not realise is that faith hate incidents and crimes include both the targeting of someone because of their beliefs but also the targeting of someone because they don’t hold a particular belief system.”

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “Living without the fear of being abused or attacked because of who you are is a basic human right.

“Hate crime is a crime committed against people when they are targeted because of their religion, race sexual orientation, disability or gender identity and it is right West Yorkshire Police has a zero tolerance to all such crimes.

“I am committed to tackling all forms of hate crime, including faith hate crime, and would urge anyone affected to ensure they report it, as we all have a responsibility to challenge the attitudes and behaviours that foster hatred.”

Anyone with information about a hate incident is asked to report it either by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency, online at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/hatecrime or www.report-it.org.uk or in person at a police station.

Alternatively, there are independent Hate Incident Reporting Centres (HIRCs) across West Yorkshire for anyone who does not want to speak directly to the police. To find your nearest centre visit the West Yorkshire Police website.