West Midlands Police are aiming to reduce a particularly nasty form of lawbreaking.
West Midlands Police have begun working with a range of partner agencies to pilot ‘third party reporting centres’ across the force, as part of their campaign to encourage more victims to report hate crime. This has traditionally been under-reported due to the barriers perceived by the victim, such as fear of the police, unwillingness to go to a police station or concerns that they won’t be understood or believed.
Third party reporting centres, which could be community groups, housing associations, day care centres or other organisations, allow victims to speak to someone in an environment they are familiar with, to people they know and trust. They allow the police to have a greater understanding and a clearer picture of hate crime, enabling a more effective response.
West Midlands Police has identified disability hate crime as a priority as victims can suffer on a daily basis and worryingly, learn to live with it rather than involve the police. The force is piloting a third party reporting centre initiative with disability services provider Remploy, who provide sustainable employment opportunities for disabled people and others.
Gareth Parry, Midlands regional director for Remploy, said: “At Remploy we ensure that disabled people feel safe and secure when they access our services. It’s a natural extension for us to provide those customers with an opportunity to safely report incidents of hate crime. We are delighted to be working with West Midlands Police on this initiative and hope many more organisations will also support it.”
In Solihull, the force has been linking in with 22 different third party reporting centres, including Enable-Solihull. This organisation helps people lead the fullest possible life, whatever their personal health or physical difficulties, through providing information and guidance to disabled people, their carers and support organisations.
Sarah Whitehouse, project support officer at Enable-Solihull, works closely with local officers, acts as an appropriate adult when required, and sits on the force’s Disability Hate Crime Group, which helps influence the way the police engage with disabled people.
She said: “Disability hate crime is a growing problem which often goes unrecognised and unreported. We are working with Solihull Council and West Midlands Police to tackle this issue, by raising awareness and introducing third-party reporting centres.” Similar projects are also underway in Walsall and West Bromwich.
The force is now looking for other organisations who would like to become third party reporting centres and broaden the service they are able to provide to their customers. These could include those offering services for members of faith, race, disability, gender identity or Lesbian Gay and Bisexual communities.
Full training will be provided for staff, as well as guidance leaflets and marketing materials. Centres will be asked to sign up to a set of principles, similar to a kite mark, setting out what is expected of them and what support they can expect from the police.
If you are interested in becoming a third party reporting centre, contact the West Midlands Police Diversity Unit on 0345 113 5000 or your local police station.
For more information on hate crime, or to report an incident online, visit: