A new 24/7 telephone helpline is being launched in the London Borough of Merton for all those who are directly affected by or a witness to Hate Crime, to report incidents and receive help, support, advice and guidance.
The new helpline, which will be operated by Stop Hate UK – a leading anti-hate crime and anti-discrimination charity that provides independent and confidential support to people who are affected by all forms of Hate Crime – will be been launched to coincide with International Day of Disability, on 3 December.
The provision of the helpline has been made possible by a kind donation from Close Brothers Group, a leading UK merchant banking group, who have a subsidiary based in the borough.
Rose Simkins, Chief Executive of Stop Hate UK, said: “We are delighted to launch our helpline service in Merton. All forms of hate crime are significantly under-reported and some people and communities are reluctant or unwilling to talk to the police or their council. We are able to support people who may feel they have nowhere else to turn.
“Contact with our helpline, or other reporting channels, might be the first time an individual has talked to someone about the things they are experiencing. No-one should have to suffer hate crime in silence, and working together with the police and local authorities we can help to make a difference in Merton.”
Councillor Agatha Akyigyina, Cabinet Member for Partnerships, Public Safety and Tackling Crime, said: “Merton Council is committed to eradicating hate crime, and we must always remember the victims of it and raise awareness of it in all its forms, including disability hate crime.
“Being the target of a disability hate crime – or any other type of hate crime – not only affects the victim but their friends, family and community too. It can also impact the victim’s sense of belonging in the community and that is unacceptable.
“In Merton, we are proud to be one of the safest boroughs in London and we are working hard, together, to ensure that this position is maintained for all our residents, regardless of background or identity.”
South West Borough Commander of the Metropolitan Police, Elisabeth Chapple said:
“The fight against Hate Crime is vital in creating safety within London and the UK. Hate Crime affects not only the Victims but also their families and those that witness the offences.
In the Metropolitan Police we will always investigate Hate Crime and provide as much support as possible. However, having an independent third party reporting facility – which we know some people may feel more comfortable using – providing 24/7 support to victims and witnesses is an important way in which we can all work together to provide those affected by Hate Crime with the help and support they need.”
The Stop Hate Line is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year on 0800 138 1625. The helpline is also available by text message on 07717 989 025 and by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
British Sign Language (BSL) users can report via the interactive BSL link on our website www.stophateuk.org. Victims and witnesses can also chat on the web or fill in an online form by visiting www.stophateuk.org/talk.
People can contact the Stop Hate Line anonymously if they prefer. Where someone has chosen to give their personal details to Stop Hate UK, their trained staff and volunteers will ask who they want their details to be shared with. The charity can also share information with the police and council, with consent, to ensure that those affected by hate crime, in any way, can access the support they need.