Hate crime centre for Lancaster residents

A new centre has opened in Lancaster to help people report hate crimes.

Based at the University of Cumbria's campus, the centre is run by specially-trained students' union staff.

There were more than 2,200 cases registered by the police as hate crimes in the county last year - where people suffered because of their sexuality, race, religion or disability.

The organisers hope the centre will make it easier for victims or witnesses to come forward.

Johnny Kirkham, from the university's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group, said it was important for people to have places to go to in confidence, if they could not speak to friends or family about being victims of prejudice.

He said: "Speaking to someone here and getting advice definitely helps.

"The more people that report a hate crime, the more that gets done about it and the less that it happens."

Supt Stuart Noble from Lancashire Police said: "We take hate crime seriously and understand that when it does happen, victims are often left feeling extremely anxious by their ordeal.

"We want to give out the strong message that hate crime does not belong in Lancashire and will not be tolerated and I would reassure victims that we are working to put a stop to such crime and that, if they do become a victim, all reports will be thoroughly investigated."

The service is available to local residents as well as university staff and students.

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