Chief Constable Phil Gormley said: “Tackling all forms of Hate Crime remains an absolute priority for Police Scotland.
“Every incident has a significant impact on the victim, their family and wider communities.
“Police Scotland continues to work closely with our criminal justice partners to do everything in our power to protect all communities and eradicate all forms of hatred.
“We cannot, however, do this on our own, and I am asking the people of Scotland to continue to work with us to ensure every incident is reported to the police. We recognise that Hate Crime often goes unreported, and there are many reasons why people don’t come forward and raise their concerns, but we must work together to ensure Hate Crime has no place in our communities.
“We live in a diverse and welcoming country, where for the majority, diversity is something to be celebrated, so if you or someone you know is being targeted and treated unfairly due to their disability, sexuality, race, religion or sexual orientation, then do something about it and tell someone.
“This doesn’t have to be a police officer, and we work closely with a wide variety of partner agencies, charities and community groups to offer ways in which victims or witnesses can raise a concern and get the information to the play via a third party.
“Hate Crime can manifest itself in lots of different ways, for example, offensive graffiti, having your property vandalised, having your belongings stolen, people swearing or making abusive remarks making you feel intimidated or harassed, through online abuse, being threatened or being physically attacked. All of this behaviour is completely unacceptable, and whether criminal or not, Police Scotland wants to know about in order to avoid behaviour escalating and being unchallenged.
“Examples of Police Scotland’s commitment to tackling Hate Crime include work with the “I Am Me” charity to provide support for people with disabilities through our ‘Keep Safe’ scheme in partnership with the public and private sectors; and the recently developed training for more than 90 officers to work with the country’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) communities to help prevent Hate Crime.”
The training was delivered by the Equality Network, Scotland’s national LGBTI equality and human rights charity, on behalf of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The officers are now part of a new network of LGBTI Liaison Officers who can be contacted by the public. The officers are also be able to help and advise their colleagues across Police Scotland on LGBTI issues.
This week of activity also coincides with the start of Black History Month, a celebration of the significant contribution of our minority ethnic black communities who, alongside other communities have played, and continue to play, a wholly enriching role in the development of our society.
Superintendent Davie Duncan of Police Scotland’s Safer Communities Department said: “We are delighted to continue to work with a wide variety of partner agencies and communities across Scotland, such as the Equality Network, in tackling Hate Crime.
“We welcome the opportunity to promote the public awareness of the issue through Hate Crime Awareness Week.
“Through research and ongoing community engagement, we know that Hate Crime is often under reported and we hope that through the provision of new and developing reporting methods, such as Third Party reporting, or via the online Hate Crime form on the Police Scotland website (http://www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us/hate-crime-and-third-party-reporting/), people will be encouraged to come forward and report incidents.
“Everyone has the right to live in safe environment, free from any form of prejudice, and I would urge anyone who has been the victim or witness to Hate Crime to come forward with confidence and let us help.”
Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network said: “We were happy to provide training on LGBTI hate crime issues to nearly 100 police officers across Scotland, and it’s great to see that Police Scotland have now set up a national network of Liaison Officers.
“This will help LGBTI people have the confidence to report hate incidents to the police, and will mean that there should always be a police officer they can make contact with who has an understanding of LGBTI issues.”