Hate crime victims in Barkingside and Hainault to be given ‘voice’ by new group

Victims of hate crime will be given a “collective voice” as government funding sees a support group established to prevent isolation.

A Community Witness and Support Team in Hainault and Barkingside will be comprised primarily of volunteers encouraging victims to discuss crimes and pioneer a project that could be spread across the borough.

Redbridge Equalities and Community Council secured funds from the Home Office as part of the Community Against Crime Innovation Fund.

Previous attempts to support victims of hate crime have failed due to a lack of funds, but Unity In The Community senior case worker David Landau believes this project will prove its worth.

He said: “The effect of being visited can make people feel less isolated, but on top of that it can also act as a deterrent to crimes.

“These people choose victims they think are in a minority, but a strong, collective voice can prevent it by making a louder noise.

“When people think hate crime, they naturally assume racial issues. But there are so many other factors, like homophobic abuse or disability issues.”

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The team will be trained in order to take reports of incidents, deter crime from happening and provide evidence by witnessing events that occur during visits.

They will also liaise with resident and community groups, as well as places of worship, to make people aware of problems.

The Hainault and Barkingside area has been chosen for the project as it is seen as a “hotspot” for hate crime.

David added: “I have been in this job since 2000 and in all that time there has been an increase in hate crimes in the Hainault area, which makes it the right place to target.

“One of the main problems is the reluctance to report these issues and that is something we hope to change by encouraging people to come forward and say ‘I’m having problems’.”

Anyone wishing to volunteer for the Community Witness and Support Team should contact David on 020 8551 8178.