Hate crimes to be tackled with probation intervention
Perpetrators of hate crimes in Northern Ireland are to have their attitudes challenged as part of a new probation initiative.
Criminals guilty of hate or prejudice-motivated offences are to go through a programme designed to get to the root of their behaviour.
The tailored intervention aims to reduce the level of the crimes and the number of victims.
The scheme, which will be run by specially-trained probation staff, is initially being piloted in north Belfast and Antrim ahead of plans to roll it out throughout Northern Ireland. As well as challenging the prejudices of offenders, the scheme hopes to promote victim empathy, tackle anger management problems and form strategies to prevent relapse.
The Probation Board of Northern Ireland's (PBNI) acting director, Cheryl Lamont, said: "PBNI is committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms and has been working with partners to look at how best to deal with the issue.
"This programme has been developed in response to an increase in offences motivated by hate or prejudice over the last number of years.