David Sidwick: Hate crime has no place in our society

By David Sidwick, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Dorset

As we reflect on national Hate Crime Awareness Week, I wanted to dedicate my blog to raising awareness and encouraging the reporting of this offence to the police.

Let me begin by saying that hate crime, in any form, is abhorrent, the ignorance and prejudice that the perpetrators of this crime have no place in our society.

Home Office statistics say that nationally, there were 124,091 hate crimes recorded in the year to March 2021 – 92,052 race hate crimes, 6,377 religious hate crimes, 18,596 sexual-orientation hate crimes, 9,943 disability hate crimes and 2,799 transgender hate crimes.

To see a figure of over 92,000 race hate crimes is concerning, especially during Black History Month, an event which is all about understanding, learning and celebrating the contributions made to our society by African, Asian and Caribbean people.

However, I would like to pick up on one specific type of hate crime which I feel rarely gets the attention and coverage that it should – disability hate crime.

Disability hate crime has had the largest percentage increase of all hate crimes in Dorset and is largely forgotten.

Giving victims a voice and raising awareness of the effects of disability hate crime is a key factor in tacking the issue. My office is currently working with the Force on making a short film where local people share their experiences and talk about the impact of hate crime on them.

To have people with a diverse range of protected characteristics talking about how they have been affected will, I hope, be a powerful and encouraging motivator to others who have experienced hate crime but not felt able to report it to the police.

The OPCC funds Restorative Justice, a victim-focused scheme by which victims tell offenders the real impact of their crime and as part of that scheme, a Hate Crime Awareness Course is being developed to deal with low-level hate crime cases. This is to challenge perpetrators on the impact of their behaviour both on victims and on themselves.

This course uses examples of hate crime and how it affected victims, and it works with perpetrators to identify how they might behave differently in future. If victims want it, feedback is given to them on the outcome of the course.

In response to the increase in the number of hate crimes being reported, the Home Office said the rise have been driven by improvements in recording, growing awareness, and a better identification of what constitutes a hate crime.

Increased reporting helps the police understand what is happening in our communities and how best to tackle it – so please – report hate crime.

I want people to know that hate crime has no place in Dorset and that I will work tirelessly to encourage tolerance, acceptance, kindness and understanding across our county – after all, the only true measure of goodness is the nobility of the human heart.

Hate Crime Awareness Week ends

During this year’s national Hate Crime Awareness Week (HCAW), Prejudice Free Dorset organised several events.

Dr Raymond Davies, Chair of the PFD Business Sub-group, spoke at the Bournemouth Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday 13th October, highlighting the importance of collaboration between PFD and businesses across Dorset.

Dr Davies then continued the activates on Thursday 14th October and said he was “looking forward to being on Falkland Square to hand out Prejudice Free Dorset leaflets to the general public as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week along with BCP Council staff, National Trust staff and Dorset Police.”

They reported that local businesses were very keen to get involved in raising awareness of PFD and how to report a hate crime. This was an initiative of the PFD Business Sub-group, and forms part of our strategy for the integration of the Dorset business community.

Although HCAW 2021 is coming to an end, the PFD Business Sub-group will be targeting Poole in 2022, coinciding with the PFD Conference in March. The group is planning a full day of activities at Poole Bus Station, the Dolphin Shopping Centre and along the High Street.

People First Forum: A safe place for all

Tina Symington, BCP Community Safety Officer, in conversation with Amanda and Paul from PFD member People First Forum

For national Hate Crime Awareness Week, Prejudice Free Dorset talked to Amanda Frost and Paul Thomas from PFD member People First Forum (PFF), an organisation which gives adults with learning disabilities a voice in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

As Amanda and Paul explain, members can benefit from keepsake advice, help if they are victims of a hate crime, and access to a safe space. PFF works with services such as Dorset Police to ensure adults with learning disabilities are safe and free from prejudice. Watch the full interview with Amanda and Paul below.

PFD’s members include statutory public bodies, charities, as well as community and voluntary groups. Read more about them here.

A guide to 3rd party reporting

During Hate Crime Awareness Week, Prejudice Free Dorset is raising awareness of the important role third party reporting centres play in combatting hate crime.

Is your organisation interested in becoming a third party reporting centre? Watch the video below to hear from Nathalie Sherring, Chief Executive of PFD member Dorset Race Equality Council, about what the role entails.

Tina Symington, BCP Community Safety Officer, in conversation with Nathalie Sherring, Chief Executive of DREC

Kushti Bok: Giving gypsies & travellers a voice

Tina Symington, BCP Community Safety Officer, in conversation with Betty Smith-Billington, Chair of Kushti Bok Dorset

Ahead of national Hate Crime Awareness Week, Prejudice Free Dorset caught up with Betty Smith-Billington, Chair of long-standing member Kushti Bok Dorset.

As Betty explains, Kushti Bok is a volunteer-led organisation which helps ensure gypsies and travellers in Dorset have a voice. These minorities are still wrongly targeted with negative labels and media attention, and Kushti Bok sheds light on these issues.

Organisations of this type are few and far between, and so their work is not only important, but also progressive. Watch the full interview with Betty below.

PFD’s members include statutory public bodies, charities, as well as community and voluntary groups. Read more about them here.

Supt Gemma Morris on joining PFD

The newly appointed Chair of PFD, Supt Gemma Morris, reflects on her vast experience and ongoing commitment to tackling hate crime in Dorset.

By Superintendent Gemma Morris, Dorset Police

Having grown up in Dorset, I first served with Surrey Police for ten years before transferring back to Dorset in 2009. In both forces I have undertaken roles across a range of policing disciplines.

My first post within Dorset Police was Head of Community Engagement. In this role I was involved in producing Dorset Police’s response to the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) Disability Harassment Inquiry and the implementation of the Police Service Equality Standard. 

The role also incorporated Public Confidence, Neighbourhood Policing, Equality and Diversity and working with Independent Advisory Groups, as well as various other groups representing seldom heard communities and those protected under the Equality Act 2010. 

I have undertaken a range of roles within Neighbourhood Policing in both Surrey and Dorset, which has given me experience in both rural and urban policing environments.

At Surrey Police I worked as part of the National Reassurance Policing Programme; and at Dorset Police I led a review of Neighbourhood Policing and held geographic responsibility for the West of Dorset during the Olympic Games in 2012.

I am an accredited detective with experience as a tactical firearms commander, as well as a kidnap and extortion-trained senior investigating officer. I have held the posts of Director of Investigations for Dorset Police and most recently as the Director of Public Protection, where I worked closely with partners to safeguard and protect our most vulnerable victims and communities.

In my current role I am responsible for Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Partnerships and Safeguarding for the Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole local policing area. I am also Dorset Police’s strategic lead for Hate Crime.

I am pleased to be taking over the role of Chair of Prejudice Free Dorset (PFD) and would like to start by formally recognising and thanking all of the current members of the collective for their hard work, commitment, and dedication to date.

I look forward to working with those groups and individuals who are currently members and hope we can continue to encourage wider engagement, representation and broaden participation in the future.

I am passionate about seeking to understand the lived experience of victims of crime and of the communities we serve. This will help us to improve the quality of service offered by the police and that of the PFD. Through our work we will continue to listen to communities and make sure everyone has the opportunity to influence the priorities and activities of PFD.

Finally I’d like to highlight that this week is Hate Crime Awareness Week. It is a week to focus our attention on making sure people who have been subjected to hate crime or who experience hate incidents feel confident in reporting to the Police or through a third party.

Hate does not belong in Dorset. Any crime which is perceived to have been motivated by hostility or prejudice based on someone’s race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, or transgender identity is a hate crime.

We want victims or witnesses to report it. We all have a part to play in ending hate crime and hate incidents. An increase in reporting helps us, the police, to understand what is happening in our communities and how best to tackle it.

You can report hate crime in numerous ways – online, by calling 101, visiting your local police station or talking to a third party who will report the incident on your behalf.

Workshop for housing associations

By Tina Symington, BCP Community Safety Officer

Following on from Prejudice Free Dorset’s No Place for Hate 2019 Conference, there was an action to hold an event for housing association staff. The request had come through from several sources, and housing associations, who had attended the event.

The initial event was planned to be in May 2020, as a face-to-face workshop session. Unsurprisingly, this event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are finally delighted to be able to offer it again via Teams to our housing association partners.

A workshop session via Teams is being held on the afternoon of Monday 11th October, during Hate Crime Awareness Week.

The session will provide attendees with the following:

  • A better knowledge of what Prejudice Free Dorset is
  • A better awareness of unconscious bias held potentially by staff and residents, and how to recognise this
  • How a housing association may be able to help tenants who are victimised by prejudice
  • What a third-party reporting centre is and how a housing association may become one.

The workshop session will include personal stories of people affected by prejudice, hate crimes or hate incidents.

Five different housing associations and housing providers are currently signed up to be attending with lots of staff members – and the PFD members providing the training, through the workshop, are looking forward to raising their awareness during this session.

We will be asking attending staff for feedback from the session and will update the website, in due course, with feedback from the workshop.

To find out more or sign up for the session on Monday 11th, get in touch!

Want to become a Prison Officer?

Want to learn more about being a Prison Officer? Perhaps you’re looking for a new career?

Come along to a free online event on July 1st, to hear more about this fascinating role from officers at HMP Exeter and HMP Channings Wood – and to learn more about careers within Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).

You will have the chance to hear first-hand from the Governor and a prison officer about:

  • What it’s like to work for HMP Exeter & HMP Channings Wood
  • Careers within HMPPS
  • HMPPS’ next recruitment campaign
  • The application process.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions, as part of a Q&A session.

If you would like to attend, please register your interest via Eventbrite.

Windrush stories

By Samuel Johnson

Today marks the fourth national Windrush Day in the UK, as well as the 73 years that have passed since the SS Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948 carrying the first Caribbean migrants to the UK – to help re-build the Motherland, Great Britain, after the Second World War.

On board, people were filled with excitement and trepidation on what this new chapter of life would bring them. Expectations were high and had been build on a psychological contract between country and citizen, and they believed in it as British people.

There was the written contract on which dreams had been built and futures planned. They were economic migrants but had not become immigrants yet as they had arrived on Britain’s shores with British passports.

Racist commentary was just a part of everyday life and deeply embedded in politics and society, and that said all I needed to know about either race or politics at that time. I never really understood the inferences of these words nor how it would impact my life. I knew that they were somehow provocative but simultaneously found the words people used to refer to me and other people of the Windrush generation intriguing.

The NHS faced the same challenges back then, as has throughout the pandemic. A huge backlog of unmet health needs and a shortage of nurses. By 1948 there were 54,000 nursing vacancies. Britain called and my parents Andrew and Pauline with their 4 children in tow, along with many more, answered.

They would go on to have four further children of which only three would survive. My Mother had secured a job in Aneurin Bevan’s new National Health Service as a midwife at Sherwood Hospital in Nottingham. By 1949 the ministries of Health and Labour were working actively with the Colonial office, the Royal College of Nursing, and the General Nursing Council and were actively recruiting Caribbean Women.

Britain’s dependence on a global clinical workforce was reflected in British immigration law. Even Enoch Powell, famed for his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech delivered to Parliament on 20th April 1968 during his tenure as Health Minister from 1960-1963, actively recruited Caribbean nurses.

I was regularly told to go back to where I was from. A sentiment I failed to grasp as I hardly left the neighbourhood in those early years and was never minded to.  We are not born with prejudices or values – according to the behaviourist theorist Morris Massey there are three periods during which values are developed as we grow.

But I am particularly interested in Massey’s ‘Imprint period’, from ages 0-7. Children are like sponges, absorbing everything around them and accepting much of it as true. Whilst the confusion and blind belief at that age can be traumatic for some, in me it awoke the desire to challenge injustice and a vocation to ‘fight’ for equal and fair treatment.

“Give me a child till he is seven years old,” said St Ignatius Loyola – the Jesuit – “and I will show you the man.” I guess that’s how I got to be who I am today.

Overall though, Pauline and Andrew would have been proud the way things worked out for their children. All seven went on to obtain postgraduate degrees. It’s easy to stand tall when you do so on the shoulders of giants.

Our giants are the Windrush generation, so it is important to recognise the contributions they made which helped shape the Britain we know today.


Could you live different? You do have a choice
History is silent, but the future has a voice
Genetics sculpt your body
Your past creates your mind
Value diversity, as we’re only here for a while

Samuel Johnson

Dorset Police launches summer campaign to increase online reporting

Dorset Police has launched a new summer-long campaign to help reduce demand on their 101 non-emergency number.

This summer, Dorset Police is expecting a large number of calls and increased demand. To reduce non-emergency call waiting times, they are asking people to consider other ways to contact the police.

The new campaign – #ItsPersonal – reassures visitors and residents that Dorset Police has a number of officers monitoring all communication channels and will respond accordingly. Every contact the police receive about a policing issue is answered by a member of their team, whether it’s through one of their online options or on the phone. 

Here are some other ways to contact the police:

Report Crime Online
‘Report Crime Online’ is an easy way to report an incident or crime to the police. Simply record all the details on the online form, then submit the form via the website. The Force’s contact centre staff will receive the form, record the crime, and provide you with a crime reference number.

Request a Call-Back
Simply complete the details on the online form to request a call-back from Dorset Police the same day. ‘Request a Call-Back’ can be used to ask questions, report non-urgent crime, and receive updates on an existing crime.

Make an Enquiry Online
If you want to make a general enquiry, tell the police something, ask a question or report a suspicious incident (not happening now), then using the online enquiry form is an efficient way to make the police aware of this information.

Email 101 – 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk

Report Anti-Social Behaviour Online
Use this online form to report anti-social behaviour which is not happening right now. This information allows the police to build an intelligence picture of what is happening in your local area to help and support communities.

Alternatively, the contact centre staff are available to answer your calls, day or night should you still wish to call the 101 non-emergency number.

“Over the last few years we have been encouraging people to go online and this has been very successful, with many people contacting us through our online reporting options,” said Superintendent Jared Parkin, Head of the Force Command Centre at Dorset Police.

“We would ask anyone needing to contact us, if it’s not an emergency, to use one of the online contact options – report crime online, make a general enquiry or email us, report anti-social behaviour or request a call-back. By choosing to use one of these options your enquiry will be answered by a member of the team and you will be helping to keep the phone lines free for people without internet access.”

Remember, in an emergency, when life is threatened, people are injured, offenders are nearby or immediate action is required, always dial 999.