A new investment will see Hampshire’s Citizens Advice offices become centres for reporting hate crime.
Police and crime commissioner Michael Lane has allocated £50,000 for the initiative, which aims to support victims of hate crime feel safer, raise awareness of the issue and change attitudes towards it.
In 2016/17, more than 2,100 hate crimes were reported to Hampshire Constabulary – an increase of 21.7 per cent on the previous 12 months.
All of Hampshire’s Citizens Advice centres, including those in Basingstoke and Tadley, are taking part.
Mr Lane said: “I am deeply concerned about the increase in hate crime, in particular the surges after significant events such as the terrorist attacks earlier this year.
“Hate crime is unacceptable. It has no place in our society, and it doesn’t reflect the values of our communities.
“But the latest hate crime figures released also show that more people are coming forward to report hate crime when they previously might not have done so due to fear or lack of confidence.
“Having more independent reporting centres across the Hampshire policing area will help those most vulnerable members of our communities feel more confident to come forward and report these crimes.”
Hate crime remains widely under reported, thought to be because some victims aren’t comfortable approaching the police with complaints.
In addition to the Citizens Advice offices, some other organisations have also set up third party reporting centres, such as libraries and community-based support groups.
All centres use the same logo, and a full list can be found at hampshire-pcc.gov.uk/hatecrime.
Mr Lane continued: “When this leads to prosecution, these crimes will attract higher sentences than similar crimes that weren’t aggravated by hate.
“Importantly, increased reporting will also help us get a true picture of hate crime in our communities.”