Council becomes a hate incident reporting centre

Published Thursday, 17th October 2019

Members of community teams, police and members of the public forming the letter H

Volunteer hate crime ambassadors have allowed Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Civic Centre to become a hate incident reporting centre.

The volunteer ambassadors are council employees and the announcement is part of the council’s events to highlight Hate Crime Awareness Week, from Saturday 12 October to Saturday 19 October.

The reporting centre helps victims of hate related crime, which fall into five categories:

  • race
  • disability
  • sexuality
  • religion
  • transgender

Abuse can be physical, verbal or cyber related and all issues can now be reported to the Civic Centre as an alternative place to the police station where victims can get advice on next steps.

Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer care, said: “Announcing the Civic Centre as a hate incident reporting centre is the perfect way to begin Hate Crime Awareness Week. Through the Southend Community Safety Partnership, council services already work closely with police and other key partners in relation to hate crime and becoming a reporting centre will only serve to strengthen that approach. The ambassadors are here to provide a listening ear, advice and support to the victim so they can report incidents to the police.

“Southend-on-Sea is a town that welcomes inclusion and involvement from all corners of our richly diverse population and hate crime of any description is simply not acceptable. I am very supportive of this as we really do need more love, less division and less hate in our society. I’m proud of these members of the council staff for volunteering to take on the responsibility of being a hate crime ambassador in addition to their everyday job, to help those vulnerable to hate crime in the community.”

There are 12 ambassadors in various departments across the council already trained to help those who need it.

Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a hate crime can pop into the Civic Centre during opening hours and ask at the reception desk to speak with a hate crime ambassador. You can speak in privacy and confidence and the ambassador will guide you through the next appropriate steps.

Kirsty Horseman, leisure and sports project manager at the council, has volunteered as an ambassador and said: “I have seen the real impact of hate crime and how frightening and isolating it can be for victims of such prejudice and discrimination. As a Hate Crime Ambassador I have the confidence to help educate our communities about what hate crime is, identify hate crimes or incidents in our community and most importantly provide crucial support to victims on how to report it. We want everyone to remember that being yourself is not a crime but being targeted because of your background, beliefs or choices is.”

Insp Ian Hughes, Southend Community Policing Inspector, added: “Southend benefits from a very diverse community, ensuring that those that live or visit the borough can do so without the fear of being the victim of a hate crime is essential.  It is the responsibility of all agencies to come together to increase the public’s confidence that should they become a victim of a hate crime that they will receive a high level of support and safeguarding and doing all we can to be bring perpetrators to justice.”

Find out more about Hate Awareness Week and how you can get involved.