A CAMPAIGN is being launched in County Durham today to combat the rising tide of hate crime.

The Hate Hurts campaign is being led by Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg, who has brought together representatives from business, sport, education and the faith communities in a united stance against hate crime.

The Northern Echo:

The number of hate crimes recorded by the police has grown by about a quarter over the past four years with 517 crimes across County Durham and Darlington in 2017-18. Just over 70 per cent were race-related and almost 43 per cent of victims were subjected to violence. The majority of victims – nearly 63 per cent – were male.

Whilst the proportion of recorded hate crime is relatively low compared with other types of crime, police believe the real level may be much higher due to victims’ reluctance to report it.

The Hate Hurts campaign will inform people about hate incidents, encourage victims and witnesses to report it and celebrate initiatives that promote tolerance and cohesion.

The Northern Echo:

Hate Hurts posters and leaflets will be seen across the area and takeaways, pubs and shops are being asked to display window stickers. The campaign is being promoted via a website, hatehurts.co.uk and social media.

Hate crime describes a range of illegal criminal behaviours committed against someone else because of their disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or some other perceived difference. It can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, both online and offline, and damage to property.

The campaign has already won the backing of local MPs including North Durham MP Kevan Jones, who said: “Hate crime is a serious offence, causing significant harm and distress to victims and adversely affecting the cohesion of our society. I welcome Ron Hogg’s new initiative to tackle this scourge and endorse Durham Police’s zero tolerance stance on hate crime.”

The Northern Echo:

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, added: “Speaking or acting hatefully of others is simply wrong.”