New service to help victims and witnesses to report hate crime

Victims and witnesses of hate crime who are not comfortable talking to the police now have a place to go to report incidents in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse.

Reporting hate crime can be difficult for a variety of reasons, for example, victims are often left feeling intimidated and may not feel able to speak directly with the police.

To help address this issue, the South and Vale Community Safety Partnership have launched this new service to provide people with a place to report hate crime in confidence to a specially trained member of staff.  The service is available at familiar locations across the two districts and incidents can be reported in person or by telephone.

Staff will talk to the individual about the incident and can offer to report it to the police on their behalf.  They will also refer them to Victims First, a service dedicated to ensuring that victims or witnesses receive the support they need to cope with and recover from their experience. 

Depending on the circumstances, and with the individual’s agreement, the member of staff can also involve other parties, such as a housing association or the district council, to help to address the incident and stop it happening again.

Cllr Caroline Newton, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at South Oxfordshire District Council and Chairman of the South and Vale Community Safety Partnership, said: “Victims and witnesses of hate crime can find it very difficult to report incidents to the police.  We hope that providing this service in an environment where people can feel comfortable they will feel more enabled to report incidents and seek support.”

Cllr Elaine Ware, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Being a victim or witness of a hate crime can be extremely troubling and stressful.  Staff at the reporting centres have been specially trained to support people who wish to report an incident and what they should do if other parties should be involved in dealing with the situation.”

Jo Douglas, Neighbourhood Services Manager for Soha said “We have signed up to become a reporting centre so that we can provide a safe environment where people can report any type of hate related incident. We hope that by joining this scheme we can help to play a role in putting a stop to hate crimes in our communities”.  

Liz Johnson, Deputy Director of South & Vale Citizens Advice said: “Citizens Advice (CA), Oxfordshire South and Vale is proud to be involved in the Third Party Hate Crime Reporting scheme launched by South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils. Our service is here for everyone and values diversity, champions equality and challenges discrimination. Our trained advisers provide free, confidential and independent advice to help people overcome their problems. We have centres in Abingdon, Didcot, Henley, Thame and Wallingford with a weekly outreach in Faringdon and all our offices are able to provide support and advice in a confidential setting to anyone who has either experienced or witnessed a Hate Crime.”

Hailey Goodwin, the Special Point of Contact for Hate Crime in Thames Valley Police stated the following: “Reporting centres provide a clearer picture on what is happening in the community and where. This allows us to work better with communities and agencies to target areas that maybe experiencing a particular issue. They can also help to overcome some of the communication boundaries that exist between the police and local communities and give people confidence that their situation is being addressed.  We want to know our communities and work with them”.

Marian Hart, Regional Housing Manager for Sovereign said: “Anyone who is experiencing or has experienced hate crime may struggle to tell anyone, and so feel unable to report it even to the police. It’s vital we have a wide range of options available for people to report it safely knowing it will be taken seriously and progressed.”

Karen Muir, Advice Supervisor at the Wantage Independent Advice Centre (WIAC) stated: The WIAC wanted to become involved with this initiative because we do have clients coming to us from advice who, although, they may not perceive they are, may be victims of Hate Crime. We now have a greater understanding of Hate Crime and consequently can support our clients more empathetically and effectively. We can encourage them to seek further advice and get the appropriate support.”

In line with raising awareness of hate crime, the district council’s Community Safety Team conducted a mini campaign to tie in with the football World Cup using the national “Kick It Out” campaign where stencils were spray painted in local parks (using chalk paint which will wash away). Feedback received from members of the public who approached the team was very positive with a strong sense of support for the campaign. 

The new third-party reporting service is the latest scheme launched by the South and Vale Community Safety Partnership to support vulnerable people.  Last year the Partnership launched the Safe Places scheme to offer people a safe place to go if they are feeling threatened, worried or lost in town centres in South Oxfordshire.  Safe Places will be extended to the Vale of White Horse this year.

Reporting Centre locations

Victims and witnesses of hate crime who are not comfortable going to the police can report the incident by visiting or phoning the following locations:

  • Abingdon

Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Abbey House, OX14 3JE - 03 444 111 444

Sovereign, The Old Maltings, Vineyard, OX14 3UG - 0800 587 2325

  • Didcot

Citizens Advice Bureau, Dales, 9-15 High Street, OX11 8EQ - 03444 111444

Soha Housing, Royal Scot House, 99 Station Road, OX11 7NN - 01235 515900

  • Faringdon

The Pump House (CAB Outreach), 5 Market Place, SN7 7LH - 03444 111444

  • Henley

Citizens Advice Bureau, 32 Market Place, RG9 2AH - 03444 111444

  • Milton

Community Safety Team, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils, 135 Eastern Avenue, Milton Park, OX14 4SB - 01235 422590

  • RAF Benson

The Hive (CAB Outreach), RAF Benson, OX10 6AA - 03444 111444

  • Thame

Citizens Advice Bureau, Market House, North Street, OX9 3HH – 03444 111444

  • Wallingford

Citizens Advice Bureau, The Bullcroft, High Street, OX10 0BX - 03444 111444

  • Wantage

Wantage Independent Advice Centre, 16 Market Place, OX12 8AE - 01235 765348

  • Woodcote

The Community Centre (CAB Outreach), The Old School House, Reading Road, RG8 0QY - 03444 111444