Leeds: New crackdown on hate crime urges hidden victims to seek help

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A NEW crackdown on hate crime in Leeds aims to encourage hundreds of hidden victims to stop suffering in silence.

Leeds City Council is launching a new hate crime strategy which will bring together work by the police, charities and Safer Leeds.

According to official numbers, more than 740 hate incidents were reported in Leeds in 2012/13. Of those, 629 were linked to race, 13 to religion, 78 to sexual orientation, 44 to disability and three affecting gender identity. However experts say the actual number is likely to be much higher, because many victims don’t want to draw attention to themselves for fear of reprisals.

Among the agencies whose work will inform the new campaign is Leeds-based charity Stop Hate UK, whose patron is Doreen Lawrence, mum of murdered black teenager Steven Lawrence. The charity’s hate crime helpline received 691 calls in 2012/13.

Spokesman Andrew Bolland said: “Each one of these calls relates to a person who is being subjected to verbal and physical abuse, their property being damaged or being the victim of other forms of abuse and discrimination. These are only the incidents that are reported [but] there is significant under-reporting of all forms of hate motivated incidents. Through the new strategy, we hope to increase victims’ confidence to report and receive effective support.”

Coun Mick Coulson, the council’s lead member for community safety said: “We are working extremely hard with our partners to tackle, prevent and reduce hate crime in our city. Hate crime in all its forms is something that should never be tolerated, and we will be continuing to use every tool at our disposal to put a stop to it.” He said the revised strategy would look at improving how hate crime is challenged, reported and addressed by all agencies in Leeds.

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