PCC writes to The Independent about hate crime reporting

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones and West Midlands Police Chief Constable Chris Sims have written jointly to The Independent in response to an article about hate crime reporting.  An edited version of the letter was published, and the original, as sent, follows:

"Dear Sir,

"In your article yesterday (Race hate - a crime the police will not solve, 13 January 2014), Fiyaz Mughal asks what Police and Crime Commissioner or Chief Constable would want to see an increase in reported hate crime.

"The answer is that here in the West Midlands we want to see hate crime reporting increase, and we have made this a priority in the West Midlands Police and Crime Plan.  This effort to increase hate crime reporting has been a consistent feature of our plans dating back to the Police Authority.  We're sure many police and crime commissioners and chief constables feel the same way, exactly as ACPO lead Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris said.

"We have introduced new protocols for more accurate hate crime recording and supported the development of third party reporting centres where victims can come forward without having to visit a police station, as well as an online hate crime reporting website called "True Vision".  Furthermore West Midlands Police ran "Operation Sentinel" this summer, which focused on a range of crimes where victim vulnerability is a factor.  Improved training for contact and visitor handling staff is in place that includes involvement from disability and transgender reference groups.  This will be rolled out across the Force so that officers and staff are better able to identify vulnerable community members, recognise when a hate crime has taken place, ensure an effective investigation and seek enhanced sentencing where appropriate, working to a Service Level Agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service.  We are also working with the seven local authorities in our area, and developing hate crime reference groups.  We acknowledge that hate crimes are under-reported and want to give our communities the confidence to know that they can come forward, that they will be heard, and that they will get a thorough and effective response.  West Midlands Police is committed to encouraging the increased reporting of any type of hate crime, including that which is racially or religiously motivated.

"As a result, we are seeing increases in reported hate crime and we want to see this continue so we can get a proper understanding of the true level of hate crime - and with this knowledge take the right steps to drive it down."