COPS have launched a new initiative to crack down on hate crime across Essex.
Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh has set up the Stop the Hate campaign to tackle assaults and abuse which is motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.
Essex Police will work closely with other organisations, including the NHS, Essex district and borough councils, the Crown Prosecution Service, and Essex Probation Service.
The project has been given the tagline “report it, sort it” and police say they are determined to help victims gain confidence to report abuse.
During a conference to launch the initiative, police announced they will be rolling out hate incident reporting centres across Essex.
It follows successful pilot schemes in Southend, Basildon and Chelmsford, which have been running since July.
The aim of the centres is to make it easier for members of the public to report hate incidents by offering them a safe and easilyaccessible place to go.
Hate crime ambassadors are expected to be based at each centre.
They will be able to engage with the wider community, promoting hate crime awareness and working closely with the Essex Police Hate Crime Officer team.
Simon Hart, chair of Essex Safeguarding Adult Board, said: “We are very pleased to be able to support this event.
“Our safeguarding adults project survey last year highlighted that vulnerable people across Essex are both worried about and experiencing hate related incidents.
“The board are therefore completely committed to ensuring robust work is under way to look at how we can continue to tackle this issue.
“This conference is one of a number of projects we are funding to help vulnerable adults feel safer to live in our communities.”
Tony Cox, councillor responsible for public protection, waste and transport at Southend Council, said: “Hate crime and bullying of any sort is just not acceptable in our town or our county, so it needs reporting and sorting, especially as it can take many forms and happen to anyone.
“I believe this initiative will go a long way towards tackling these dreadful crimes and the criminals who commit them.”
Councillor Terri Sargent, Basildon's cabinet member for community, said: “Basildon Council is proud to be backing this campaign.
“We are committed to helping to raise awareness of hate crime and working together to encourage people to report it.
“There is no place for this kind of behaviour in our town and this initiative highlight the steps that can be taken to tackle it."”
For more information about Stop The Hate, go to www.stopthehate.org.uk