Derbyshire Police has welcomed a new group of volunteers to help promote awareness of hate crime across the county.
The four volunteers will be an integral part of a wider team that will deliver events aimed at promoting the understanding of hate crime – particularly working with potential victims and explaining how to report incidents.
Hallema Liaqat is one those taking on the role, she said: “Often hate crime can become so normal for people that they don’t speak up about the abuse they suffer.
“Fortunately, I’ve not been a victim of hate crime, but I know people who have experienced it both directly and indirectly because of their race, religion or sexual preference. However, they did not report it and I know others don’t believe officers will take it seriously if they did.
“It was these reasons that made me want to join as a volunteer to raise awareness of what hate crime is, how people can report it and give police the information to act on.”
The announcement regarding the volunteers comes as the force takes part in Hate Crime Awareness Week, which seeks to promote understanding and reporting of hate crime.
Hate crime is subjecting people to harassment, victimisation, intimidation or abuse because of their race, faith, religion, disability or because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.
The new volunteers will be working with groups and communities that may be victims of hate crime to help build and maintain relationships between them, the police and other partner organisations.
Beth Ashley, joined the programme after completing a Masters degree in criminal investigation and wanted to increase awareness of hate crime.
Beth said: “Hate crime is a relatively new concept and people still don’t really understand exactly what it is – which is exactly where the volunteers can help.
“It covers such a large number of people and backgrounds and I’m looking forward to speaking to different communities to get the message out there.
“Thinking back I have definitely seen instances of hate crime but I hadn’t really realised – in many ways it was just seen as normal.
“Hopefully I and the other volunteers can change that and make people aware of the how hate crime can affect the individuals and communities.”
The hate crime volunteers are part of a wider police service volunteer programme which supports a diverse range of crimes that the force investigates.
Sandy Langton, volunteer coordinator for Derbyshire Constabulary, said: “Volunteers are highly valued within the force and make a huge difference in the unit they are supporting.
“The work they do for us is enabling officers to commit more time to operational policing and provide a huge saving on time, resources and funding.
“I am delighted to welcome the new hate crime volunteers and, with their obvious commitment and enthusiasm, I am sure they will be a huge success.”
PC Fred Bray, who is part of the community safeguarding team, will be working with the volunteers to help engage with potentially hard to reach groups.
He said: “These new volunteers will help build strong relationships with communities and become the link for information between them and officers.
“They will centre their efforts in breaking down barriers in hard to reach communities and providing awareness around hate crime and how to report it as this is one of the areas nationally that police need to improve in.
“I am looking forward to working with them and helping prevent hate crime occurring and helping where and when it does.”