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  1. ITV Report

Hate crime reports on the rise in Cumbria

Credit: ITV Border

Instances of hate crime in Cumbria are on the rise, according to figures obtained by ITV Border.

Statistics show that since 2015, racial hate crimes have risen by 38%, religiously motivated by 26% and homophobic offences by 29%.

Racism in sport was brought into the spotlight this week, when football fans hurled racist abuse at players during England's Euro 2020 qualifier match against Bulgaria. England's six-nil victory in Sophia, the Bulgarian capital, was marred by racist chants and Nazi salutes from home supporters.

It's something sports clubs here are now trying to tackle. Workington and Whitehaven Rugby clubs have teamed up with Cumbria Police, Fire and Rescue, British transport Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and North West Ambulance Servie to start the campaign #tackleit to encourage people to report more hate crimes.

Workington Town approached Cumbria police to collaborate in raising awareness about the potential for hate crime in our sport. Rugby league has been a front runner in addressing inclusion issues for many years now, so we wanted to join our colleagues at Cumbria Police and other agencies in Hate Crime Awareness week to reinforce our support.

It’s important to us that our club is a safe and inclusive place for everyone to come and enjoy the game. We would urge anyone who is a victim of a hate crime to contact the police and report it. If you feel unsafe, please contact a member off staff at the ground who can help you to report the incident.

– spokesperson for Workington Town

Hate crimes are any crimes that are targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards their disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Examples of hate crimes include physical attacks, verbal abuse, damage to property, bullying and threats, abusive gestures and offensive letters, leaflets, emails and texts.

Police believe that figures may be higher because people feel more comfortable reporting it, or that there may be a shift in attitude towards what is acceptable.

The organisation says "it's really important that we do continue to encourage reporting because nobody should be made to feel upset or harassed because of who they are."

But Awaz, a Cumbrian group supporting ethnic minorities across the region, says that increased reporting is not enough, and that police forces need to be doing more.

The major issue which we experience in Cumbria is that there isn't much done to tackle the root causes of hate crime, ignorance, lack of understanding and working together in terms of the agencies responsible for making environments conducive for integration.

I think Police need to step up their game. They need to work in partnership with the organisations and the communities, and it is not one agency's responsibility, always firefighting. You need to do work in advance to actually tackle the root causes of hate crime.

– Aftab Khan, Awaz Development Manager

Watch the full report by Natasha Potts below: