Agencies in Northumberland are turning to the latest technology to help make it easier to report and tackle hate crime in the county.
And to help launch a new mobile phone application which raises awareness of this sometimes hidden crime, a conference took place at County Hall in Morpeth.
The app, developed for the Safer Northumberland Partnership and available for iPhone and android phones, helps people understand how to deal with the traumatic effect of such offences, why it happens, how to report it and where to seek help and support.
Across Northumberland over the past year there were 69 hate crimes – which can include people being targeted over race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
The app allows individuals to report instances wherever and whenever they feel safe.
A variety of agencies came together for the conference last Thursday. There were a series of presentations on hate crime, including input from people in the county who have suffered hate crime themselves.
The Safer Northumberland Partnership includes Northumberland County Council, Northumbria Police, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, Northumbria Probation Service and Northumberland Care Trust, as well as a variety of voluntary sector organisations.
Its chair, Liz Simpson, said: “While this county is one of the safest in the UK, we know there is still under-reporting of hate crime and we need to do all we can to make it easier for people to report incidents easily and quickly. If this app manages to save just one person from this despicable kind of crime, then it has to be worth it.”
The app can be downloaded for Apple and Android phones by searching for ‘Hate Crime 4’ through the App Store or Google Play store.
Detective Chief Inspector Deborah Alderson from Northumbria Police said: “Whilst some hate crimes are obvious, not all are so easy to identify and some people can be victims of hate crime without even knowing, that’s why it’s so important that we raise awareness.
“Anyone who has been subjected to behaviour that makes them feel upset, nervous or vulnerable or feel targeted because of their age, faith, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation or because they are transgender should report it to police straight away.”