New campaign urges witnesses to report hate crime

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Victims of prejudice and abuse have joined politicians and police at the launch of a new campaign urging witnesses to report hate crimes.

The joint Police Scotland and Scottish Government drive features mock letters from Scotland addressed “Dear Haters”, indicating the country has “had enough”.

Other images are addressed to transphobes, homophobes, disablists, bigots and racists.

With the slogan “Hate Crime. Report it to stop it”, the campaign aims to encourage increased reporting of the crimes.

More than 5,300 hate crimes were reported to the Crown Office in 2017, but Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said many more go unreported.

A poll earlier this month of 1,000 Scottish adults revealed more than 80% would tell police about an elderly woman being mugged or a house in their street being broken into, but less than half (43%) would report online religious bullying.

The survey found 54% of people would report intimidating or humiliating behaviour towards a transgender person, while 53% would contact police over racially-motivated verbal abuse.

Hate crime victim Henrietta Mochrie joined Mr Yousaf, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell and senior members of Police Scotland at the campaign launch in Edinburgh.

She said: “I’ve experienced so many incidents of hate crime because I’m transgender. I’ll often get street harassment, sometimes this has escalated to the point where I’ve been followed by people shouting abuse at me, just because of who I am.

“It makes me feel really down and scared to leave the house. It’s important that if you witness hate crime that you report it to take a stand against hate.”

The Justice Secretary added: “As somebody who has faced Islamaphobic and racial abuse over the years, I know how upsetting being a victim of hate can be.

“Hate crime and prejudice are completely unacceptable and we are absolutely committed to tackling it.

“We all have a role to play in stamping out prejudice and I would ask anyone who witnesses a hate crime to play their part and report it.

“Justice agencies such as the police and Crown Office will deal sensitively with reports made and people should have confidence in how they will be treated.”

Police Scotland said hate crime emergencies should be reported via a 999 call and otherwise incidents can be reported on the 101 non-emergency number.

Chief Superintendent John McKenzie: “Police Scotland treats all hate-related crimes and incidents as a priority.

“It is recognised that hate-related crimes and incidents pose a significant threat to victims, their friends, families and wider communities, and the potential impact of such crimes cannot be underestimated.

“We continue to work tirelessly to ensure we respond to all reports of hate crime and I would encourage anyone who has been the victim of, or witnessed, a hate crime to report it.”

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