To mark National Hate Crime Awareness Week, City College Plymouth has brought together representatives from across the country to discuss the alarming increase in hate crime and how reporting these kinds of incidents can be made easier.
Students from the College also premiered a film they had made which highlights the importance of reporting hate crimes which people witness in their day-to-day lives. The screening was accompanied by a pre-recorded interview with Plymouth MP Luke Pollard who discussed his experiences as a gay man working in the public eye.
Hate crime rates are increasing post-Brexit across the country. The latest Home Office data shows that the total number of hate crime cases in Devon and Cornwall increased by 223 in 2016/17, with racist offences making up the majority of reported incidents.
Representatives from the police, Crown Prosecution Service and support group Stop Hate UK were joined by a range of local organisations and support networks to discuss, debate and share experiences of hate crime in Devon first hand.
Lynne Wilson from Stop Hate UK attended the conference and was impressed with the students’ desire to raise awareness of hate crime reporting. She said: “At Stop Hate UK we work with people and organisations up and down the country to challenge all forms of hate crime and discrimination, based on any aspect of an individual’s identity. We believe that bringing people together to debate these issues is important for raising awareness and can really highlight the importance of not being a ‘bystander’: people need to feel empowered to challenge and report hate crimes.
“The film that these students have made reinforces this message. When young people engage in these issues, they can have a real impact; their message has a resonance that can spur others to examine their own behaviour. Young people, and students especially, can be perceived negatively but I think this film demonstrates how they can be a positive force for change in their community.”
DC Rachael Cheesley represented Devon and Cornwall Police at the conference, as well as making a cameo appearance in the students’ film. She said: “Being involved in this conference is an opportunity to share the important work we do in our unit with the people of Plymouth and really hear their voices.
“I am a hate crime detective working within the Diverse Communities Team – a unique set-up in Devon and Cornwall, but we in Plymouth recognise the importance of having experienced detectives working in this area. We are dedicated to victims of hate crime and motivated to make a change. With our experience, we are able to put more into the investigations, advise other officers on investigating hate crime, as well as to support and safeguard victims. We also work closely with our engagement officers to build bridges between the police and our communities. That’s why working with students at the College on projects like this is so important.”
Anthony Murphy-Jones, who was part of the College team behind the film, said: “I was quite shocked when I realised the extent of hate crimes in Devon. It’s our home, and I feel like we should all be looking out for each other. I hope our film makes people examine their behaviour and gives them the confidence to challenge hate crimes when they see them, or at least report them afterwards. Working with the police and hearing from today’s speakers has really brought the message home to me, I hope the film will do the same for others.”
City College Plymouth operates a zero tolerance policy when it comes to hate crime and offers support services to those who are in need. Anyone who is a victim of or witnesses a hate crime should report it to the police by calling 101 (or 999 in an emergency), or visit Stop Hate UK (www.stophateuk.org) for advice and support.
Image caption: Panellists ‘line-up’ to stop hate
Copies of the students’ hate crime awareness film are available on request.
Wednesday 17 October 2018
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