By Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner
I am proud to be a member of Prejudice Free Dorset and its work to raise awareness of hate crime in Dorset.
It brings organisations together with a common goal to help make the county a place where everyone can live, work and visit free from hostility and prejudice.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner along with all members of Prejudice Free Dorset has signed the partnership’s Charter.
This sets out our collective commitment to work together to tackle hate crime and help provide a consistent approach across the county. It includes commitments around reporting, governance and our response – all vital to enable us to challenge attitudes and find ways to reduce fear and prejudice in our communities.
To explain why commitments such as these matter, I’d like to focus on the issue of reporting hate crimes.
I know from speaking to victims that there can be a reluctance to report hate crimes to the authorities.
I can understand why a victim might not come forward if they don’t believe any action will be taken and so, we need to reassure victims that all partner agencies will take their reports seriously.
Without this information we cannot understand the full scale of the issue nor bring offenders to justice. We can do this by a whole range of activities – including educating our members and partner agencies about the impact of hate crime and incidents, sharing best practice across the local community and explaining the different ways that victims can come forward.
So, please be assured that reports will always be taken seriously and we are all working hard to make sure the way we collectively handle reports continues to improve.
Hate crime isn’t something we’re going to crack overnight – it is a complicated problem which has seen an ugly resurgence nationally over recent years.
Our Charter sends a clear message that hate crime will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of all members of society to challenge hate crime and hate incidents and the Charter provides assurance to communities right across the county that members of Prejudice Free Dorset will lead the way.