Hate crime reporting drive launched

A new campaign aimed at giving the victims of hate crime the courage to report attacks has been launched by the Scottish Government.

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Ministers unveiled the new campaign in the wake of figures which showed there were more than 4,000 charges of racially aggravated hate crime last year.

There was also said to be a significant rise in reported charges for incidents related to someone's religion, sexual orientation or disability in 2012-13.

The Speak Up Against Hate Crime campaign aims to encourage both victims and witnesses of crimes based on prejudice against someone's race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity to come forward and report the matter to the police.

Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham said the initiative was being launched in a year when "the eyes of the world" would be on Scotland as it hosts the Commonwealth Games, golf's Ryder Cup and the second year of Homecoming.

She said: "Hate crime can have a devastating impact on individuals and communities, and there's no place for these incidents in our country.

"2014 is a big year for Scotland. With events such as the Commonwealth Games, Homecoming and Ryder Cup all happening in the same year, the eyes of the world will be on our nation."

Ms Cunningham continued: "It's extremely important for victims or witnesses of hate crime to speak up and have their voices heard.

"We take a zero tolerance approach to incidents of hate and Police Scotland is working hard to gather information on people suspected of committing hate crime acts.

"Ultimately, reporting hate crime assists not only with that particular incident but also helps prevent it happening to others.

"I very much welcome this campaign which will raise awareness of what a hate crime is and give victims the courage to speak up while ensuring perpetrators of this damaging prejudice are clear these acts are unacceptable."

Superintendent Gavin Phillip, of Police Scotland, said the force treated hate crime as a "high priority", with allegations investigated "thoroughly" and offenders dealt with robustly.

He stated: "We recognise the impact hate crime can have on individuals, families and communities, and will treat each case sensitively, using specialist officers and services where appropriate.

"Police Scotland also recognises that in some cases victims or witnesses of hate crime don't feel confident reporting the matter directly to the police and may be more comfortable reporting to a person or organisation they are familiar with.

"There are a variety of third-party organisations that work in partnership with Police Scotland to receive reports of hate crime on their behalf."

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