Oxford

Oxfordshire hate crime helpline used 47 times

A dedicated 24-hour helpline set up in Oxfordshire to report hate crime has been contacted 47 times in its first six months.

Stop Hate was set up last October in response to under-reporting of hate crime.

Spokeswoman Una Morris said the charity was happy with the figure but she hoped the number of contacts would increase.

The helpline was set up with £10,000 from police and councils and is funded until March 2014.

The charity has been working with police, council workers and voluntary organisations to raise awareness of the helpline and hate crime.

'Name calling'

The 47 contacts include calls to the helpline, text messages and online contact.

Ms Morris said: "We know that there are people who are experiencing incidents who do not yet know about our service.

"There are others who are still building up the confidence to talk about what has happened to them."

Hate crimes are offences against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

The number of hate crimes recorded by Thames Valley Police in Oxfordshire fell by nearly 20% over the past year.

From July 2012 to June 2013 the force logged 264 crimes compared to 327 the year before.

However, Dan Harris from My Life My Choice, a charity working with people with learning difficulties in Oxfordshire, said he did not believe there had been a drop in hate crime.

"I don't get the sense that anything much has changed. The vast majority of people we spoke to had experience of hate crime, from name calling to persistent behaviour such as bullying."

Mr Harris said he hoped better publicity would lead to more people calling the helpline or police.

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