911129080Cumbria police has launched the initiative to combat what statistics suggest is a growing problem, and that officers believe is under reported.

The force already operates a network of 54 hate incident reporting centres where victims can report a crime or pass information without having to go to a police station.

The new online method – through the website www.cumbria.police.uk – is designed to complement these.

A crime is defined as a hate crime if the victim is targeted because of hostility or prejudice towards their disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender identity. It can be committed against a person or property.

Cumbria police logged 217 hate crimes between April and December last year, more than in the whole of 2012-13, although officers believe the increase is due to more people coming forward.

Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes said: “If we are to stamp out hate crime, we need people to tell us about it.

“Any crime is unacceptable, but hate crime in particular has a dramatic impact on people’s lives. Any initiative that makes it easier for people to get in touch is to be welcomed.

“I would strongly encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed a hate crime to come forward.”

Three detective sergeants have been designated as hate crime incident managers for north, west and south Cumbria. All reports of hate crimes are sent to them.

Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson said the force wanted to give victims confidence to come forward in the knowledge that reports would be investigated and prosecutions would follow “where possible”.

He said: “The reporting centres and the new online method offer an alternative process to report hate incidents.

“We appreciate that some victims may not be comfortable or able to report an incident via the usual method on the phone or to a police officer.

“Hate crime is historically under reported. Offering alternative methods to notify us of such incidents will hopefully bridge the gap to those victims who as yet have not accessed our services.”

Hate incident reporting centres include:

CARLISLE: Belah, Botcherby, Currock, Denton Holme, Greystone, Harraby, Morton, Petteril Bank and Yewdale community centres; Carlisle College, Victoria Place; Disability Association Carlisle & Eden, St Nicholas Street; Glenmore Trust, Northumberland Street; Heathlands Project, Harker Road Ends; Carlisle Mencap, St Cuthbert’s Lane; OutREACH Cumbria, Carlisle Enterprise Centre in James Street; People First, Botchergate; Pride in North Cumbria, Fisher Street; Riverside Housing, Botchergate; University of Cumbria, Fusehill Street.

MARYPORT: Derwent & Solway Housing, Ellenfoot Drive; Little World Foods, Curzon Street.

PENRITH: Eden Mencap, Little Dockray; Glenmore Trust, Newton Road.

WHITEHAVEN: Cafe West, King Street; Inspira, Roper Street.

WIGTON: Home Group, King Street.

WORKINGTON: Impact Housing in Nook St and at The Oval Centre, Salterbeck; Inspira, Vulcan’s Lane; Lakes College, Lillyhall; Your Derwent & Solway, Park End Road.