Former England striker Luther Blissett has helped to launch a new campaign against the rising rate of hate crime in Hertfordshire.
The one-time Watford and AC Milan forward spoke at the launch of Herts Police’s new strategy to combat hate crime.
Over the last year the number of reported hate crime offences has increased by nine per cent.
Luther, who was the first black player to score a hat-trick for England, said: “There was really no great point and nothing to be gained for me professionally to stir it up too much, and that’s what was happening to myself and many other players. And you still occasionally hear it now.
“There were always people out there who would overstep the mark, and they need to be brought to book.”
Hate Crime is the term given to offences where the victim has been targeted specifically due to ‘who they are’. It covers any criminal offence where a person is targeted because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.
1,208 hate crimes have been reported to police in Hertfordshire between April 1 and October 10 this year. This represents an increase of 97 from the same period last year – almost nine per cent.
Herts Police’s new strategy concentrates on four main areas: prevention, resolution, support, and learning.
David Lloyd, police and crime commissioner for Hertfordshire, said the increase in reported offences underlined the need for a joined-up approach. He added: “Nobody should be abused for the colour of their skin, their sexuality, transgender identity, religion or disability.
“This vicious crime can leave lasting scars for the victim and we must work together as a community and agencies to challenge offenders. This strategy sets a clear direction for that.”
Hate crime can be reported via Herts Police’s website www.herts.police.ukor by calling 101. In an emergency, you should dial 999.
Victims who prefer not to report direct to police can do so at the national website www.report-it.org.uk as well as a number of third party reporting centres across Hertfordshire.