City to set up centres to tackle ‘hate’ crimes

VICTIMS of hate crimes will now be able to report such offences more easily through new centres which are being set up in Sheffield.

These “third party reporting centres” are being established with trained staff in organisations including universities, libraries, health centres and mosques.

Coun Harry Harpham, deputy leader of Sheffield Council, said more needs to be done to “tackle the very sensitive issue of hate crime”.

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He added: “It takes great courage for victims to report the crime in the first place, but they may be discouraged or too scared to talk about it in more formal environments, such as at their local police station.

“We, and our partners such as South Yorkshire Police, want to make reporting hate crimes easier for all sections of society and to break down barriers.

“These third party reporting centres will see staff from various organisations becoming the first port of call for victims.

“They will allow people to speak to trained professionals in a friendly, confidential environment so that we and our partners can do more to tackle the problems that exist.

“Details will then be passed to the police to carry out detailed investigations.”

Statistics show that minority groups are often those people who are least likely to report crimes.

A Sheffield Council spokesman said: “They may be frightened of the police due to experiences in their homeland or are fleeing violence or civil war.

“People who have learning or physical disability are probably the largest group in terms of potential victimisation – and perhaps are too scared to report crime or do not know how to.”

Last month, a crackdown on hate crimes in North Yorkshire was intensified after senior police admitted as many as two-thirds of offences are going unreported.

A network of new “signposting centres” is now being piloted in several districts across the county, to act as a first point of contact.