Newport Muslims Unite Against Hate Crime
Deputy PCC Paul Harris and Gwent Police Superintendent Mark Warrender joined Muslim leaders from across Newport at the Jamia Mosque on Commercial Road yesterday afternoon.
The event formed part of a range of activities planned during National Hate Crime Awareness Week (13th - 17th October) aimed at encouraging people to report hate crimes and hate incidents.
The Welsh Government is working with each of the Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales during the week to help increase greater awareness of hate crime and how to report against the theme Communities against hate: Your voice matters.
The recent All Wales Hate Crime Research Project found that 15% of Religious hate victims surveyed had attempted to conceal their religion in order to reduce the risk of hate crime victimisation. The Jamia Mosque is the largest mosque in Newport and has been a target of hate crime incidents in the past.
Among those in attendance today will be Mr Abdul Rahman Mujahid, an influential member of the Jamia Mosque committee. According to Mr Mujahid, leaders at the mosque have preached sermons encouraging people to report hate crime and he believes that week's such as Hate Crime Awareness Week are vital where providing people with the confidence to report these crimes or incidents is concerned.
"We have had a few incidents of hate crime at the mosque and the police have caught some of those responsible. Gwent Police have also personally addressed people at our mosque, encouraging them to report these crimes," explained Mr Mujahid, who moved to Newport from Pakistan in 1976.
"During Friday prayers last week, our Imam reinforced the message to everyone that if they are a victim of a hate crime - they must contact the police so they can get the help that they need. I think hate crime is a lot to do with a lack of education and there needs to be more teachings in schools to say that it's not acceptable and to show young people what is not acceptable. I do think people now have much more confidence in reporting incidents because they know there is support out there for them."
Highlighting the importance of raising awareness about hate crime and urging victims to report incidents, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Paul Harris, said: "It's vital that we work with our communities to raise awareness about hate crimes and highlight that there is support here for them and that there are consequences for the perpetrators. Whether it's hate crime to do with race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender or age - it's important that people report these incidents so they can be dealt with properly."
Gwent Police Hate Crime Lead, Superintendent Mark Warrender, said: "Gwent Police has a zero tolerance approach to hate crime: it can destroy lives; instil fear and break down the fabric of communities and neighbourhoods. Hate crime can affect anyone and, if not tackled, can lead to the isolation and victimisation of individuals and vulnerable groups along with the polarisation of communities."
Apart from the daily focus on each type of hate crime and how to report it, residents have also had the opportunity to attend roadshows throughout the Gwent Force area this week and to speak to Neighbourhood Teams and Specialist Hate Crime Support Officers about hate crime.
And at the end of the month, Gwent Police and Torfaen People First will also be hosting a Disability Hate Crime event. The event, which will take place on October 29th, has been arranged using funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner secured from the Welsh Government and will include workshops on hate crime, an interactive drama production and re-launch of 'Talk About It' third party reporting centres for people with learning disabilities across Gwent.
All activity during Hate Crime Awareness Week has been supported by social media messages using the hashtags #hcawarenesscymru and #seeithearitreportit on twitter.
If you are in immediate danger call the Police by dialling 999 (non-emergencies 101). You can also report a hate crime to Victim Support directly and confidentially for free on 0300 30 31 982 or by visiting http://www.reporthate.victimsupport.org.uk/hate-crime/