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PCC calls on Bedfordshire to stamp out hate crime
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has pledged her support to Hate Crime Awareness Week and called on those living in Bedfordshire to join the Force in raising awareness.

The national week, led by the charity Stop Hate UK, falls shortly after the PCC backed calls for hate crime online abuse to be treated more seriously. During the week, the OPCC and Force will be taking boards that illustrate unity against hate crime around the county for people to sign.

“I am only too pleased to sign up to Bedfordshire Police’s campaign in which the people of Bedfordshire put their names to state clearly that there is no place for it in this county. It can be devastating to be picked on because of your faith, race, gender, sexuality or as a result of a disability,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“As PCC, I encounter examples almost daily of our communities living in a tolerant and harmonious way, together. Unfortunately, there is a small minority whose prejudice and bigotry are voiced through abuse which amounts to hate crime.

“Bedfordshire Police has zero tolerance of such behaviour, which is why it has a dedicated sergeant to lead around the whole subject of hate crime,” added the PCC.

Reports of hate crime to Bedfordshire Police, between January and September, have risen by 28.10% compared to that of 2016; a rise that Commissioner Holloway feels is in direct response to the terror attacks this year.

“Thankfully, at this month’s Strategic Board, the figures show hate crime coming down. Three months ago in the wake of the London and Manchester attacks, there were 89 reports in July. Over the past month there have been 66, but every one of these is unacceptable to me,” said the Commissioner.

The Force has a dedicated hate crime team, led by Sergeant James Hart, which works with local charities and organisations to raise awareness and educate people to better understand the impact it can have on victims.

“National Hate Crime Awareness Week has never been so important. It’s been a very difficult year with communities across the UK experiencing prejudice and discrimination. These offences have ranged from verbal abuse to people being physically attacked. The victims of these offences are being targeted for their beliefs or being different or perceived to be different,” said Sergeant James Hart.

“Hate crime is under reported and we need to ensure victims and communities across Bedfordshire feel empowered to report such crimes. These cases are abhorrent and have absolutely no place in our society.

“Bedfordshire Police has prioritised hate crime for many years and Hate Crime Awareness Week provides us with a platform to educate the public on how we can help and increase awareness across our communities. We have organised events across the week and have designed wrist bands and promotional banners to be used across the county. These resources will give members of the public an opportunity to be part of the week and write a message of support which we hope to be used as part of our social media campaign.

“We need to increase confidence and National Hate Crime Awareness is a big part of this process. Bedfordshire Police takes a zero tolerance approach to Hate Crime and I hope by increasing awareness victims feel comfortable coming forward,” added Sgt Hart.

Hate Crime Awareness Week will continue until 21 October 2017, with members of the OPCC and Bedfordshire Police going around the county encouraging everyone to sign the Hate Crime Awareness Boards and to wear the wrist bands.

“Members of my office and representatives of Bedfordshire Police will be out and about all week and I ask people to please sign the boards and wear wrist bands in order to support us to stamp out hate crime in this county,” added the PCC.