The hate crime team at Cleveland Police is reminding people that Coronavirus is not an excuse to spread hate.
While no Coronavirus hate crimes have been reported over recent weeks, it is important that anyone who is the victim of such a crime has the confidence to come forward.
Inspector Fay Cole, Community Safety and Engagement, said: “The impact Coronavirus is having is widespread and is affecting everyone in some way. Whilst many people are coming together to help and support each other there are still situations where people are being targeted simply for being who they are.
“Hate crimes and hate incidents cause harm to individuals, their family and friends and also deeply impact upon the community. They are corrosive and cause fear and division leaving victims and communities living in fear.
“A hate crime doesn’t always include physical violence. Someone using offensive language towards you or harassing you because of who you are, or who they think you are, is also a crime. The same goes for someone posting abusive or offensive messages about you online.
“Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but it is equally important that these are reported and recorded by the police. You do not have to be the victim of a hate crime or hate incident to report it to the police. If you have witnessed an incident you can still make a report to the police.”
A hate crime is any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.
A hate incident is any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender.
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “Even during an international pandemic there are still people in our communities who think it is acceptable to victimise a person simply for being who they are.
“As chair of Cleveland’s multi-agency action group on hate crime, my message to people affected by these offences is simple – it is worth reporting incidents and your reports will be taken seriously.
“My office invested in two specialist hate crime investigators for Cleveland Police, who have achieved over 200 successful outcomes for victims of hate crime since they were introduced in 2018. Please report any incidents you experience or see and help bring perpetrators to justice.”
Hate crime can be reported in a number of ways, including over the phone to 999 or 101, online at www.report-it.org.uk, or through partner agencies such as Crimestoppers.