Hate crime reporting room opened at Letchworth drop-in centre

Jackie Nealon, founder, Barry Pearman, staff at the drop in centre, Zoe Theakston, Jackie's daughter

Jackie Nealon, founder, Barry Pearman, staff at the drop in centre, Zoe Theakston, Jackie's daughter, Lynda King, staff at drop in centre and Beccy Driscoll, Hate Crime officer for Stevenage and North Herts - Credit: Archant

A service dedicated to tackling hate crime has opened in Letchworth.

Jackie’s Drop-In supports adults with learning disabilities and has teamed with Herts police to open a hate crime reporting room.

The service will be totally confidential and available during opening hours to anyone who wants to report a hate crime, with a particular focus on disabled people.

Felix Ferrero, a trustee at the centre in Norton Way South, said: “A lot of people don’t like speaking to the police, especially people with disabilities so we set up this room in the centre because these people come here every day and feel safe.

“We know them and they are far more likely to tell us what has actually happened so we can pass it onto the police.

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“This is important because hate crime against disabled people is a real problem and hopefully this new service will go some way to addressing that.”

The centre is open from 11am to 3pm Monday to Friday and can be attended by people with learning disabilities that are aged 16 and over.

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Detective constable Rebecca Driscoll, who leads on hate crime reporting in Stevenage and North Herts, said: “We know that hate crime is under reported which is why we are supporting this project.

“We hope that it will lead to an increase in the number of reported crimes because the victim speaks to a third party volunteer who they know rather than a police officer they’ve never met before. The victims know and trust these volunteers and are far more likely to speak to them and they can then pass this information onto the police.

“We would encourage anyone who thinks they have been a victim of hate crime to come forward because we will listen and help you.”

The centre, which is run by volunteers, is open from 11am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

For more call 01462 338752.

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