Police are joining with partners to raise awareness of hate crime and the devastating impact it can have on its victims.

The force is marking Hate Crime Awareness Week (October 9 – 16) with a number of engagement events to encourage reporting of hate crime, and to highlight the work being done by police and partners to address the issue in Sussex.

A hate crime is defined as ‘any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender’.

It doesn’t always include physical violence – someone using offensive language towards you or harassing you, or posting abusive comments or messages online, can also constitute a hate crime.

Officers will be conducting street briefings across Sussex during Hate Crime Awareness Week to engage with members of the public, talking about what constitutes a hate crime, the impact it can have on victims and the wider community, and how people can report a hate crime so offences can be investigated and victims can be supported.

Sussex Police will be supporting events and initiatives organised by partners during the week, including local councils and victim support agencies.

Neighbourhood Youth Officers will also be working closely with schools to raise awareness of hate crime among young people, particularly around online offences.

A newsletter will be issued to all Sussex schools featuring resources on how to tackle hate crime incidents with children and teenagers, including issues on extremism and radicalisation.

Superintendent Rachel Swinney, the force’s Hate Crime lead, said: “We take all strands of hate crime incredibly seriously – it is not okay to be targeted because of who you are or because of who people think you are. It is an offence that creates fear and humiliation, and has a damaging impact on victims and our wider communities in Sussex.

“Responding to hate crime is part of our day-to-day work but we are using Hate Crime Awareness Week as an opportunity to increase the awareness around offences of this nature and encourage people to report it to us.

“Our officers and staff are trained to deal sensitively and professionally with reports of hate crime. They understand that it can sometimes be difficult to explain what has happened, but they are there to help you and can provide details of other support services that may be available.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Nobody should have to tolerate abuse, intimidation or physical abuse simply for being who they are so I wholeheartedly back the work that Sussex Police will be doing this week to raise awareness of hate crime.

“I am particularly pleased that Neighbourhood Youth Officers will be talking to pupils about misuse of social media and the harm that  online hate messaging causes and how easy it can be to get caught up in it.  

“We need to reassure people that police do and will take this seriously and we need to get the message to offenders that their vile behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Hate crime can be reported via our website or by calling 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.

Messages around Hate Crime Awareness Week will be shared across the Sussex Police Facebook and Twitter accounts.