Police officers on hate crime refresher

LOCAL Ballymoney neighbourhood police Sergeants took part in a recent training exercise to develop and refresh their skills around liaising with victims of hate crime.

They joined other Hate Incident and Minority Liaison Officers from across the District and representatives from organisations including Ballymena Inter-ethnic Forum, Kilcranny House and Ballymoney Resource Centre at an event held in Coleraine.

Sergeant Gary McMaster, Hate Incident and Minority Liaison Officer in Ballymoney, said: “Hate crimes are crimes committed against people on the basis of their perceived race, disability, political opinion, faith, sexual orientation or gender identity and police in Ballymoney take all reports of these crimes very seriously.

“These crimes can take the form of verbal abuse, hate mail, criminal damage to your home or property or even assault. All of these are unacceptable and when reported, a Hate Incident and Minority Liaison Officer is assigned to the incident and it is handled in a very sensitive manner. Hate Incident and Minority Liaison Officers advise and support victims of hate crime and aim to increase the potential for identifying and prosecuting offenders.

“Hate Incident and Minority Liaison Officers also work with various community and voluntary groups within districts to help build confidence within minority groups to ensure that those who are the victims of crime report those crimes to police.

“If you have been victimised, don’t allow the aggressor to get away with their crime. Do something for your own sake and for the sake of your community. Contact the local police station on 0845 600 8000 and ask to speak to your local Hate Crime and Minority Liaison Officer who will begin an investigation. Abuse in whatever form should not have to be tolerated.”