A new and unique service to support victims of hate crime has been launched.
The Hate Crime Advocacy Service (HCAS) works directly with victims and witnesses of hate crimes and incidents to help them through the process of prosecution. It can also help them to cope with the crime to which they have been subjected.
Darlington Association on Disability, QuerKey CIC, and Show Racism the Red Card have partnered with Ron Hogg, Police, Crime & Victims’ Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington to create this unique advocacy service.
By being a buffer between the victims and the various agencies from the Police to the Crown Prosecution Service or the courts, the advocates can enable better experience and outcomes from the criminal justice process.
Ron Hogg said: “Not all victims need an advocate but hate crime victims are more likely to need one. The knowledge and expertise of the three organisations is now available to victims.
“My intention is that victims should remain at the centre of any prosecution and this project will go a long way to improve how victims of hate crime cope and recover from the experience of crimes targeted at people just because of who they are or what faith they have.”
Laws are in place to protect victims of targeted behaviours relating to race, faith, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.
HCAS draws on the expertise of three organisations which offer support for victims of all strands of Hate Crime.
Each agency has expertise in their sector and together they will provide a unique service for victims of crime. Victims of all types of hate crime can benefit from using the service.
Emma Roebuck, director QuerKey CIC, said: “The voice of the victim is seldom heard in the prosecutions of crime.
“This leaves the victim adrift and without the opportunity to move beyond the crime and back into normal life. This project will give that voice from the point of reporting to beyond the court room.”
Olivier Bernard, ex Newcastle player and now owner/manager of Durham City Football Club, has worked with Show Racism the Red Card for many years.
He said: “I first arrived in the North East in 2000 and was welcomed with open arms. The region is now my home and I love being treated as ‘North Easterner’. Since becoming owner of Durham City FC, the people of Durham have been incredibly welcoming too.
“I am really pleased that this new service will now be available to those who have not been as fortunate as me.
“Hate Crime has no place in our towns and cities and I would strongly encourage everyone to show the same spirit of acceptance towards members of their communities, irrespective of their identity, as they have shown towards me.”
Victims or witnesses of a hate crime can obtain free, confidential support by email at: [email protected] or call 01325 267359.