New hate crime initiative launched in RotherhamPublished Friday, 20th May 2016
A new way of reporting hate crime in Rotherham has been launched in a bid to encourage victims to come forward.
Operation Solar addresses concerns that hate crime is widely under-reported issue by offering members of the community an anonymous and informal email address.
Chief Inspector Richard Butterworth, district lead for hate crime, said the aim of the project was to empower victims and improve the town’s response to the serious issue.
He said: “We want to give victims the confidence to come forward and reassure Rotherham communities that hate crime of any form will not be tolerated.
“No-one should suffer from this despicable crime and we will take action against anyone seeking to threaten or harm another, or incite racial hatred, either in person or on social media.
“Despite our best efforts to encourage those affected to call 101 or speak to police officers, sometimes, this is just too daunting and people are worried about making a ‘formal’ report.
“We have listened to this feedback and put this additional method into place supported by community-based reporting centres.”
Information received will be used to identify hotspots and emerging trends, co-ordinate police activity and provide a targeted response. It will also allow officers to run covert investigations including using cameras to pursue offenders.
The number of reported hate crimes in Rotherham from January to May 2015 was 101 compared to 196 for the same period in 2016. In 2015 there were 377 recorded incidents of hate crime.
An Independent Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel has already been set up in response to growing tensions which CI Butterworth said were as a result of a “number of factors”.
He added: “In February this year, two 30-year-old men were jailed for more than 40 years for the murder of an 81-year-old Rotherham man. During the hearing, the court heard that the victim, a popular member of the community, was assaulted because of the colour of his skin.
“This shocking and brutal crime sent shockwaves through the Rotherham community and is exactly the kind of behaviour that we are working tirelessly to prevent.
“We know that the publication of the Jay Report in 2014 into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham has had an impact on local communities as well as the number of demonstrations that have been held in the town.
“Op Solar will help us to bring those who commit hate crimes to justice and help communities in Rotherham live side by side without fear or prejudice.”
Councillor Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council, added: “Hate crime can have a devastating impact on people. Victims of hate crime shouldn’t suffer; we recognise that not all victims of hate crime will feel comfortable coming forward which is why this approach is vitally important and has our full support.
“We hope that people will find the confidence to report incidents. Abuse based on prejudice and discrimination will not be tolerated in our communities."
Examples of hate crime or hate-related incidents are cases where the offender’s prejudice or hostility is caused by someone’s disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexuality or transgender identity.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "We must work together to encourage more victims to report hate crime and to ensure that they are able to do so in any way that they feel comfortable.
"South Yorkshire Police has been working intensively with the Rotherham community to launch Operation Solar and I hope that this will increase trust and confidence that they will investigate offences and support criminal prosecutions where it is appropriate.
"I would like to send a clear message that hate crime, of any kind, will not be tolerated in Rotherham or anywhere else in South Yorkshire."
Victims, witnesses or members of the public can provide information about hate crimes directly to the police by emailing Operation Solar.