Posted: Friday 20th October 2017
To those of you celebrating the festival of light - Happy Diwali, I wish you a peaceful and prosperous year ahead. As we welcome the beginning of the Hindu festival which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness in our world, I want us all to think about this notion as it resonates deeply with what I want to share with you today.
Let’s end hate crime. A very small sentence with the potential to have a huge impact if we work together to tackle hate crime once and for all. This week is National Hate Crime Awareness Week (October 14-21) and members of my team, the Police and our wider partners have been working together to raise awareness of hate crime and showing a united front in tackling prejudice and hate. Can you imagine going about your everyday life and being abused because of your sexuality, your faith, your race, disability, gender or transgender identity? Sadly for many this is a regular occurrence and since 2015 there has been a 46% increase in hate crime reports across the region.
If you have been a victim of hate crime, you don’t have to live like this. We know that two in five hate crimes aren’t reported to the police and together I want to do all we can to let people know that help is available. Over the week we’ve been sharing stories of different people who have experienced hate crime and the help they received when they had the confidence to share what had happened to them. Hasina from Bristol bravely told her story as a female victim of anti-Muslim hate, who was subjected to hostility and racism when shopping in the city centre. Despite her ordeal Hasina decided to report the incident to the police in order to protect others from facing what she had to go through.
Launched this week and accounting for 41% of all hate crime, gender will now also be recorded by the police as an aggravating factor in hate crime. I am fully aware of local people’s and partner organisations, such as Bristol Zero Tolerance, desires to adopt gender as a hate crime. This is a real milestone in ensuring those who are targeted because of their gender and who are made to feel threatened or uncomfortable have the confidence to report, knowing they will be taken seriously. Most importantly if you’ve been a victim of gender or any other type of hate crime, help is available and I would encourage you to report it to the police or talk to the many fantastic support services across the city.
On Wednesday, alongside Unseen and the South West Anti-Slavery Partnership we highlighted how people can help in tackling the war on human trafficking as part of Anti-Slavery Day. You may think that modern slavery doesn’t happen or equally doesn’t affect you, but sadly not only does it exist, it’s closer to home than you think. Farms, massage parlours, hotels, car washes and nail bars are amongst some of the places we know modern slavery hides. We need to help those 3,805 victims identified across the UK and give them the voice they don’t have. It’s also why you might have seen some officers wearing brightly painted nails in a bid to raise awareness and ‘nail modern slavery’ for good.
I was surprised to hear that after 33 years, Crimewatch has been axed from our screens. With an average of three million viewers per episode and having been fundamental in the process of solving many a mystery and bringing hundreds of offenders to justice, I was surprised to find that the BBC will no longer be aired during prime time TV. It’s an unfortunate loss to our evening viewing selection but is no doubt symptomatic of the times.