Victims could soon go to libraries, shops or even pubs and bars to report hate crimes in Norfolk
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
Victims of hate crimes could soon be able to report offences in shops, libraries and even pubs and bars across Norfolk as part of a new scheme.
Stop Hate Crime in Norfolk, which is launched today, is aiming to develop a county-wide network of locations to encourage both victims and witnesses to report hate incidents to specially trained staff, in addition to the police.
It comes as police announced plans to close seven police stations and another seven front desks as part of cost-cutting measures which would also see all PCSOs in the county scrapped.
Members of minority groups across Norfolk, where hate crime has been on the rise, have backed the new hate crime scheme.
Sirajul Islam, general secretary of the East Anglian Bangladeshi Islamic Centre, said the scheme, being spearheaded by the police and county council, was a 'very good idea'.
He said: 'There's getting to be a bit of an increase in hate crime in the last few years, not in Norwich, but particularly in the UK.'
Mr Islam said women, including his wife, could be targeted because of the clothes they wore.
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He said: 'My wife sometimes when she walks sometimes people make comments or noises or some words which is not right. She's afraid of going out on her own. Some people try and forget these things and move on but they should report these things because otherwise how is it going to stop and if there are more places to report this it would be better.'
A police spokesman said they were 'encouraging everyone and anyone', including libraries, pubs and bars, to get involved by either supporting the scheme or becoming a third party reporting centre for hate crime offences.
Staff at venues which wanted to become reporting centres would need to be trained by officers to gather the right information to pass onto police so it could be investigated.
Julie Bremner, chair of Norwich Pride 2018, which celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, said: 'If this new scheme encourages people to think about their behaviour and report hate crimes, then we will support it and help promote it.'
A FOI request found that between July and September last year 130 hate crimes were reported to Norfolk police - 25pc increase on the number from April to June.