Belfast Telegraph

PSNI nets award after hate crime clampdown

by Natalie Irvine

It was this time last year that 65 Romanian men, women and children living in south Belfast fled in fear following a series of race crime attacks on their homes.

One year on, police officers in south and east Belfast (B District) have scooped third place in the ‘Diversity in Action’ category at a recent PSNI awards ceremony.

Constable Crawford Thompson, is one of the district’s hate crime officers who collected the award. He said: “What happened last year with the Roma families and at the Northern Ireland v Poland match at Windsor Park, were scenes we never wish to see again.

“We realised we have to do things differently, to police differently in the community and be |more pro-active.

“There are different categories recognisied in hate crime and our programme addresses them all —disability, religion, race, sectarianism, gender and sexuality. It is important we work with the indigenous community too if we are to address the issues.

“We are part of tension monitoring groups that take place monthly — we work with a variety of agencies such as the council, Housing Executive, and various community members and local representatives to assess critical tensions in the area. We also want to encourage those who have been victims of hate crime to report it. A lot of people still don’t. More crimes being reported doesn’t look good for police figures, but that is totally irrelevant. It is important that we know about the incidents so we can do something about it.”

Constable Crawford confirmed that a Chinese and Polish advocacy worker had recently been employed, which had proved “extremely successful” in bridging a gap in building trust and |confidence.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, June 10, police in south and east Belfast helped launch an advocacy scheme for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Community.

The community-led pilot project involves the appointment of an advocate to work closely with the LGBT community in areas such as hate crime, domestic abuse, homelessness and other issues of concern.

The main objectives are to encourage reporting, reduce crime, enhance crime investigations, improve clearance rates for hate crimes, provide support for victims including housing support and reduce anti-social behaviour towards members of the LGBT community. The advocate will be based within the offices of the Rainbow Project in Belfast.

Speaking at the launch, B District Deputy Commander, Superintendent Chris Noble said: “Attacks on people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity highlight the necessity to ensure that as a society we stamp out hate crime once and for all.

“Our ‘Policing a Shared Future Strategy' outlines the need to ensure that everything we do is underpinned by fairness and respect towards all members of our community.”

Belfast Telegraph


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