‘DO not suffer in silence’ is the clear message to victims of hate crime across the Bognor Regis area.
Peter Allan, Sussex Police’s hate crime sergeant, wants to hear from anyone who thinks they have suffered hate crime – particularly those who feel they have been targeted because they have a disability.
Sgt Allan said: “Our figures show that so far this year there have not been any hate crimes against those with disabilities in the Arun district.
“If this was the case it would be lovely, but sadly I don’t think it is.
“I believe that this sort of hate crime is going on in the area, but it is not being reported.
“If it is not reported then we can’t deal with it.”
Sgt Allan says he is worried disability hate crime is going unreported because it is being accepted by the victim as part of their everyday life, but he stresses this should never be the case.
“I would ask all friends, family and carers of someone with a disability to keep an eye out for this, it is not acceptable and it should not be happening,” he said.
Hate crimes and incidents are those perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or transgender.
Sgt Allan said: “Please if you think you have been the victim of hate crime contact us. Any form of hate crime is not acceptable, but unless we are told about it we can’t investigate it.”
Tackling hate crime also relies on creating public awareness and addressing a lack of education.
Sgt Allan said: “There are times when someone may use a word or gesture that is insulting but not realise it. We do have to challenge this sort of behaviour.
“Similarly if someone sees someone suffering abuse in public because of something about them they should report it.”
Last year in Arun 85 hate crimes and 13 incidents were reported.
Since April this year 17 crimes and five incidents have been reported.
Those who are found guilty of hate crimes in court can face an enhanced sentence. If an incident is motivated by a hate crime, years or months can be added onto a jail term.
Hate crimes can also be dealt with by way of cautions, summons and community resolutions.
If you think you or someone you know has been the victim of hate crime contact 101 or if it is an emergency 999. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @SgtPeterAllan.